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Virat Kohli defends MS Dhoni’s place in the T20I side

MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli
MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli

Indian skipper Virat Kohli has hit back at the critics of MS Dhoni who were demanding the wicketkeeper to hang up his boots from the shortest format of the game to make way for the youngsters. After India’s loss to New Zealand in the 2nd T20I in Rajkot, former players had written Dhoni off from the format.

The Ranchi-lad had scored 49 runs off 37 balls while batting during India’s chase of 197. Initially, he struggled to get going and the Kiwi bowlers tightened the screws on him. He was unable to rotate the strike, and Kohli was left stranded at the other end. The fireworks from the former skipper did eventually come but those turned out to be too little too late as India lost the match by 40 runs.

Ever since that uncharacteristic knock, the likes of VVS Laxman, Akash Chopra and Ajit Agarkar had slammed Dhoni and called for his retirement. But Virat Kohli has lashed out at all the critics and said that Dhoni is contributing to the team in any which way possible.

The skipper reckons that the 36-year-old is targetted only because of his age and that he is working very hard on his game and striving to be fit still. In the post-match conference after the 3rd T20I in Thiruvananthapuram, he defended his predecessor saying that he is still an indispensable part of the team.

Here’s what Virat Kohli said about Dhoni

“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. 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 and Australia.

“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.

“By the time he comes in, the run rate is already 8.5-9.5. The wicket is also not the same like when the new ball is being bowled. Batsmen who are set at the top find it easier to strike the ball straight away compared to guys who come lower down the order. The kind of wickets that we played on, wear and tear have been much more in the latter half.

“You have to assess everything. As team members and management, we understand the situation when people go in to bat, we don’t get emotional and excited about opinions of people who are looking at things from a different point of view. You understand how the wicket is behaving, in what situation you are in.

“He is doing absolutely fine. He is working hard on his game, understands his role but it doesn’t come off every time. He hit a six in Delhi and it got showed five times in the post-match show and suddenly he doesn’t score in one game and we are after his life.

“People need to be a bit more patient. He is a guy who understands where his cricket is. He is a very smart guy and understands where he stands with his body and game. I don’t think anyone else has the right to decide that for him,” concluded Kohli.

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