Off Days or Not, Dressing Room Always Backs MS Dhoni: Virat Kohli
India captain Virat Kohli backed MS Dhoni on Thursday, 26 June, saying that no matter what happens on the field, the dressing room “always backs him”.
Dhoni faced criticism for his failure to rotate the strike against Afghanistan spinners and even against the West Indies, the former India skipper initially found the going tough before he got 16 in the final over to finish on 56 off 61 deliveries and take India to 268 for seven.
“He has won us so many games and best thing about having someone like him is that when you need those extra 15-20 runs in the end, he knows exactly how to get them with the tail,” Kohli said after India dismissed West Indies for 143 in 34.2 overs to notch up a 125-run win in Manchester.
Dhoni smashed 16 runs in the final over that included two sixes and a four at Old Trafford, and that gave India a lot of boost, said Kohli.
“Keeping strike in the end and finishing off with two big sixes was something that gave us a lot of boost as a team. We were looking for 250 but got close to 270 all because he was out there in the middle. Hardik played really well also but his experience 8 out of 10 times has come good for us.”
Further praising the former skipper, Kohli said, “We have quite a few players who play instinctive cricket and follow their game plans. He’s one guy in the middle who always sends out a message for the team – that I think this is a par score on this pitch. He has such a keen understanding of the game, he’s always giving us feedback in terms of what is a good score. If he says 265 is a good score on a pitch, we don’t aim for 300 and end up scoring 230. That’s his strength, to play calculated cricket”.
India dethroned England to rise to the top of One-day International rankings and Kohli said he is happy with his team's overall performance.
"I can't complain, we just became no. 1 yesterday as far as rankings are concerned, to be honest, we are playing that way for a while, need to continue that way. Things haven't gone our way with the bat in the last two games, but we have still done well to win, that's being the most pleasing thing," he said.
Kohli scored two successive fifties in difficult conditions – a 67 off 63 balls against Afghanistan and 72 off 82 balls against West Indies Thursday.
"I am happy with my own contribution as well. We were in a similar situation today (150 odd for 4), but getting to 270 was crucial. Last game, we didn't calculate well, we lost two quick wickets, but today we improved," said the India skipper, who was adjudged the Man of the match for his crucial fifty.
"I look to play in my own way, happy to take the ones and twos which I think is a big factor in ODI cricket. Two difficult pitches, I'm happy with my contribution and look forward to doing more of the same in the future." Kohli also praised Hardik Pandya (46 off 38) and Dhoni for taking India to a competitive total.
"Hardik played really well and MS finished strongly. When those two play in that way, we always get to a good total. To get to 270 was good, that put pressure on their batting and was very difficult to chase," he said.
"I don't need to tell anything to my batsmen, they have to adjust according to their strengths and weaknesses and play according to the pitch." West Indies skipper Jason Holder blamed his side's inconsistent batting for their 125-run loss.
"Thought the bowlers did a fantastic job on this surface. Just let ourselves down with the bat. In hindsight, Dhoni's (stumping) miss a crucial moment we didn't seize," he said.
"Let ourselves down significantly in this tournament. Missed a few chances in the field which cost us. Batting was too inconsistent. Can't fault the bowlers. Need to improve. Probably our weakest format, this.
"Kemar Roach was outstanding today. Youngsters have chipped in here and there. Bowlers had a reasonable campaign. Can't fault their efforts. Fielding, definitely has to improve. So does the batting."
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