Pant Over Dhoni, Jadeja in ODIs: 4 Takeaways From Virat Kohli’s PC
A ruthless India completed a nine-wicket demolition of the West Indies in the fifth and final ODI on Thursday, 1 November, for their sixth successive series win at home.
The Windies managed to post just 104 in 31.5 overs and the home team took just 14.5 overs to chase down the target, courtesy an unbeaten 99-run stand between Rohit Sharma (62 off 54) and captain Virat Kohli (33 off 29).
MS Dhoni did not get a chance with the bat and ends the year just one run short of the big 10,000-run mark in one-day cricket. This series was also the veteran keeper’s last outing at home this year after he got dropped from the squad for the T20 matches against Windies, making way for Rishabh Pant. While earlier, the selectors had said he was being rested, Virat Kohli clarified after the match on Thursday that it was in fact Dhoni who himself chose to be left out of the squad so that Rishabh Pant would get more time out in the middle in international matches.
Here are the four big takeaways from his session with the media:
Dhoni Chose To Be Dropped
India captain Virat Kohli clarified that Mahendra Singh Dhoni remains an integral part of the ODI team and the veteran wicket-keeper-batsman decided not to play the upcoming T20s only to make way for the much younger Rishabh Pant.
"I think the selectors have already addressed this if I'm not wrong. And he's been spoken to, firstly... So, I don't see any reason why I should be sitting here and explaining that. I think the selectors have come out and explained exactly what happened," said Kohli at the post-match press conference after guiding India to another series win at home.
"I was not part of that conversation so... It is what the selectors explained. I think people are putting too much variables into the situation, which is not the case I can assure you of that. He's still a very integral part of this team and he just feels that in the T20 format, someone like Rishabh can get more chances."
Dhoni has been dropped for the upcoming T20 series against the West Indies and Australia and there is a possibility that he never plays for India again in the shortest format.
"He anyway plays the ODIs for us regularly, so... From that point of view, he's only trying to help the youngsters; nothing that other people are thinking and I as captain can certainly assure you of that," Kohli said.
Rayudu and Khaleel New Gains
On the positives from the West Indies series, which India won 3-1, Kohli said he was happy with the way Ambati Rayudu had played at No.4 and the manner in which young Khaleel Ahmed bowled.
"Those two things is something that we were looking for a while; someone to back-up Bhuvi and Bumrah - someone to pick up wickets and bowl in good areas. Having a left-arm seamer gives you variation in the attack. Khaleel was really good and Rayudu, of course, grabbing his opportunities, batting with maturity, batting with composure. It is always good to plug in the areas that you are looking at," he added.
‘Fielding Needs Work’
On the areas of concern for the team in the run-up to the World Cup in England next year, the India skipper said it was about putting in consistent efforts on the field.
"If we can be consistent as a fielding side, it can give us more consistency overall in our skills department as well. In the field, we can still improve a lot. We have spoken to the people in the practice sessions who need to do the extra effort to sharpen their fielding, and they are putting in that extra effort.
"That is the only area we feel we can get better at. Obviously, batting and bowling are big variables. Fielding is something that is controllable and you need to get that from all the 11 players in the field."
Jadeja’s ODI Comeback
About the return of Ravindra Jadeja and if he was a front runner in the race for the all-rounder slot, Kohli said the Saurashtra left-hander had done well since coming back in the Asia Cup.
"It depends. When Hardik (Pandya) is fit and fine to play, you have to see what is the combination you have to take in the World Cup. If Hardik is fit, Kedar becomes a spin option as well. Hardik becoming fit also gives you four seaming options, along with Kedar and one more spinner. You might need one more spin option. Jadeja becomes the key there with the team balance.
"In the Test matches as well, I think he batted and bowled very well. I get a sense that he understands his game much better. He has obviously gone back and worked quite a bit, especially in white ball to come back and perform like this. He has been smart about what he wants to do with the field.
"In the field, there has been no question about his ability. With the bat and ball he has matured a lot now and brings balance to any side," the India captain said.