Thiruvananthapuram: India captain Virat Kohli heaped praise on wicket-keeper-batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni saying he is fit at over 35 years and performing for the side.
The former India skipper was criticised for failing to clear boundaries at regular intervals after the second Twenty20 International (T20I) against New Zealand.
"First, I don't understand why are people only pointing him out, I'm not able to understand this," the 29-year-old was quoted as saying by Cricinfo.
"If I fail three times, no one is going to point fingers at me because I'm not over 35. The guy is fit, he is passing all the fitness tests, he is contributing to the team in every way possible, tactically on the field, with the bat. If you look at the series against Sri Lanka and Australia, he did really well and in this series he hasn't got much time to bat," Kohli added.
Kohli also said all-rounder Hardik Pandya failed to contribute runs batting at no.5 or 6 but his form has not been pointed out.
"You have to understand, the position in which he comes out to bat, even Hardik (Pandya) could not score in that game," the India skipper said.
"Then why are we only pointing out one man? Hardik also got out in the last T20 that we played in Rajkot. We are conveniently targeting only one man which is not fair. We also have to look at the fact that by the time he comes in, either the run rate is already eight-and-a-half or nine-and-a-half and the wicket is also not the same when the new ball is bowled," Kohli added.The India skipper further went a step ahead and defended his former skipper by saying that the team management understands what time does Dhoni goes into bat.
"Also, the batsmen who are set from the top, they find it easier to strike the ball straightaway compared to the guys who come lower down the order. And the kind of wicket that we have played on, the wear and tear has been much more in the latter half. You have to assess everything.
"As team management and players, we understand the situations in which he (Dhoni) goes out to bat. We don't get emotional and excited by the opinions of people who are looking at things from a different point of view. If you are playing, you know how the wicket is and what the situation is like. So, I think he is doing absolutely fine."
"He understands his game, he understands his role, but it doesn't come off every time. He hit a six in Delhi and it was shown five times in the post-match show. Everyone got really happy. And suddenly he doesn't score in one game and we are after his life. I think people need to be a bit more patient. He's a guy who understands various cricketers. He's a very smart guy. He understands where he stands with his body, with his game. So I don't think anyone else has the right to decide that for him," the skipper signed off.