After India's maiden bilateral ODI series victory in Australia on Friday, skipper Virat Kohli heaped praised on Mahendra Singh Dhoni saying that no one is more committed to Indian cricket than the former captain.
With this victory, India became the first team to finish a full tour in Australia unbeaten.
Dhoni, who was criticised for his slow innings (51 from 96 balls) in the first ODI, let his bat do the talking and guided India over the line in the next two games, sealing a series win.
“I think firstly as a team we are very happy for Dhoni. That he is amongst the runs, because it is very important to get runs under your belt to get that rhythm and get that confidence back. Especially when you have not been playing so much international cricket,” said Kohli addressing media persons in the post-match press conference.
Dhoni, who registered three straight half-centuries in this series to finish as India's top run-getter, played a crucial role in the decider at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with an unbeaten 87.
“Many things happen on the outside. People say a lot of things but as an individual we know that there is no one more committed to Indian cricket than Dhoni and people should let him have his space because he has contributed so much for the nation," noted Kohli.
"They should let him figure out things on his own and what he needs to do. He is one of the most intelligent cricketers and he is not someone who is not aware about what needs to be done. As a team we are totally in sync with what he is doing and we are all very happy for him,” added Kohli.
“Dhoni batted at No.4 in 2016 for a while. But after that he has been pretty happy playing at five and six for the team. We felt that No.5 was the ideal position for him. And if you saw him bat at Adelaide as well he was pretty comfortable in that position because that allows him to do a bit of both – get some game time as well as finish games off, attacking as and when required,” Kohli added.
Kohli also said that they had to find the right balance in the absence of Hardik Pandya.
“He was more himself from that game (Adelaide) on, and he built onto this knock today. We are pretty happy with the batting combination that we had in Adelaide. When someone like Hardik Pandya is not there you have to balance somehow. So a lot of things vary in that regard. But we as a team, and myself as captain, we feel that Dhoni at five is the most logical. It is the ideal place for him and the team as well.”
“If you look at that last game, Ambati Rayudu batted at four, Dhoni at five and Dinesh Karthik at six. Because we brought in Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav, we didn’t want Karthik to change his spot because he is doing a good job,” Kohli reasoned when asked about the experimentation at No.4.
“The middle order we saw in Adelaide is pretty much the most balanced if you look at it. The No.4 position, again, has been a sort of an area which we want solidified,” he said.
“But because of the combinations we want to play, some times you have to make those changes. Anyone who bats at four will have to take the responsibility for the World Cup, whoever it might be. That person will have to take responsibility at No.4,” Kohli further added.
“Our strength as a side has been unpredictability. We haven’t been predictable with our combinations in the past year, if you see the kind of teams we have played with,” signed off the skipper.