India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has hailed yet another master class knock of Virat Kohli, saying that the combination of his inherent aggression and gradually developed calmness is working wonders for the star batsman.
Batting at the other end, Dhoni had the best seat in the house as Kohli single-handedly powered India into the ICC World T20 semifinals with an unbeaten 82 off 51 balls against Australia in a must-win group match in Mohali on Sunday night.
“It was an incredible innings. Especially the fact that the wicket was not easy to bat on, it was difficult to hit back of a length deliveries. The good thing is that they didn’t bowl too many spinners. He (Kohli) had a partnership with Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh), who twisted his ankle and they could not convert those one and a half runs into twos. It was tremendous batting effort by him, super batting. Especially the areas you want to score runs, there also he was very good and so was his running between the wickets,” said Dhoni at the post-match presser.
Kohli scored the bulk of the runs in the unbeaten 67 runs stand off 31 balls with Dhoni, showing exemplary temperament in trying circumstances to get his team over the line.
Dhoni on Kohli’s character
Asked how difficult it is to bat like Kohli did when the crowd gets completely into the game, Dhoni said the innings spoke volumes about the right-hander’s character.
“You are in the best position to enjoy. When everyone is having fun, celebrating the success, you want to click a picture of it in the mind. You won’t really repeat it. You would obviously celebrate it in the dressing room, it is a team sport after all. It is a responsibility that the individual takes and gives you more chance to prove yourself for the team and country. It is a good thing to have and where it has also helped him, that when the game goes into the last over, a lot of things pop into your head,” Dhoni said.
“When you are calm it helps you take the right decision. It is a good quality to be calm but at the same time, he will always be an aggressive cricketer ready to take on challenges. That is what I think is great. He is heading in the right direction and he should not lose his own character (aggression) that is what his strength is. He is batting amazingly well. He is fit, he can field anywhere and at same time he runs hard,” said the skipper.
About running between wickets
The running between the wickets from Kohli and Dhoni was also exceptional and the captain thinks a fast runner in the team is always an asset.
“He still needs to pay me. I was running his runs,” Dhoni quipped before explaining the value of a good runner.
“In the middle overs, if you are a good runner, it takes the pressure of you and puts pressure on the fielders and bowlers. I am not somebody who is great. I just play unorthodox cricket, push it for two and hit a six if it is in my area. I am not someone like Virat who can hit anywhere.
“Quite a few middle order batsman who have been good, they have been good runners too. One example of that is Michael Bevan. You have the opportunity of pushing the fielder, especially the faster bowlers. Every team has fielders who are the not the quickest or fielders who are quick but they don’t have a strong shoulder. So that is why you have to eye them,” he said.
‘Leave it to players to take decisions’
Yuvraj was struggling with his ankle while batting with Kohli before getting caught at extra cover.
Asked what was the talk in the dug out in that scenario, Dhoni said: “It is an easy decision when two individuals like Yuvi and Virat are batting. Virat is the vice captain and Yuvi has played more than 250 ODIs for India. You have to leave it to them to take the best decision.”
On chances against West Indies
Talking about possible changes in the playing eleven for the semifinal against the West Indies, Dhoni said it would depend on the wicket.
“I don’t know whether we should make changes but it is possible, depending on the wicket. We have to see Yuvraj’s injury as well. We would definitely like to have a replacement ready if the physio says it is bad,” he said.
The bowlers did well to limit Australia to 160 after they raced to 53 in four overs. Ashish Nehra was the pick of the bowlers again and Jasprit Bumrah bounced back after being hit for four fours in his first over by Usman Khawaja. And Dhoni was all praise for his pacers.
On Nehra and Bumrah
“I think the self confidence matters a lot in executing what your strength is. As I have said, if you can bowl yorkers you can easily fall back on it. People talk about Lasith Malinga. If you see his strength, he swings the new ball but when somebody goes after him, he starts bowling yorkers. He has a different action, similar to Bumrah and he watches the batsman right till the end. It really counts on a wicket like this. I thought it was a very good effort from the bowlers,” he said.
“In Nehra’s case, I think the experience counts and he knows his body. He is not someone who is 22-23. When you are 35 plus, you have to know your body. He is somebody who still loves to bowl in the nets but at the same time he knows when to not bowl a single delivery. Experience helps, as well as execution. He knows what he wants to bowl and more of than not he executes well,” Dhoni added.