Indian skipper Virat Kohli finally broke his silence on fans criticising wicketkeeper-batsman MS Dhoni for his finishing skills, calling him ‘fit at 35’ after winning the T20I series in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday.
“I don’t understand why people are pointing him out. If I fail as a batsman three times, no one is going to point fingers at me because I am not over 35,” Kohli said in the post-match conference.
Dhoni scored 49 runs off 37 balls in the second T20I that India lost by 40 runs in Rajkot. The cricket pundits criticised him for playing too many dot balls when a blistering knock was expected from former India captain.
“The guy is fit; he is passing all the tests. He is contributing to the team in every tactical way on the field. With the bat, he did really well against Sri Lanka (away series) and Australia,” Kohli reminded his critics.
Indian batting legends VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag were of the opinion that Dhoni should understand his “role in the team” and give youngsters a chance. However, young generation pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar came in support of MS Dhoni.
Kohli believes one needs to understand that how much time Dhoni usually gets to bat at middle-order.
“In this series, he didn’t get much time to bat. You have to understand that the position he comes in to bat, even Hardik Pandya could not score in that game so why are we pointing out one man? Hardik as well got out in the last T20 in Rajkot. You are conveniently targeting one man, which is not fair.”
Explaining how coming to bat in the latter half affects Dhoni’s game, Kohli added: “By the time, he comes in, the run rate is already 8.5- 9.5. The wicket is also not the same as when the new ball is being bowled. Batsmen who are set at the top find it easier to strike the ball straightaway compared to guys who come lower down the order. The kind of wickets that we played on, wear and tear has been much more in the latter half, said the 29- year-old skipper about his predecessor.”
In the recently concluded New Zealand series, Dhoni scored 25, 18 (not out) and 25 runs in the three ODIs, before contributing seven (not out), 49 and 0 (not out) in the T20s.
(With inputs from agencies)