Virat Kohli made no bones about what he thinks about the criticism around MS Dhoni following statements by former India cricketers VVS Laxman and Ajit Agarkar, who suggested him to quit T20Is and play only ODI cricket.
The dismayed India captain threw his weight behind Dhoni, saying “the people need to be a bit more patient” and not be after his life.
India won the 3 matches T20I series against New Zealand with a 6 run victory in the final match in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, but the debate around Dhoni began after he started slowly and in the end failed to take India to a win in the second T20I of the series in Rajkot.
Laxman and Agarkar had suggested that Dhoni should make way for a youngster in T20Is. However, Dhoni received the backing of Sunil Gavaskar who, while respecting the opinions of Laxman and Agarkar, questioned why Dhoni was being singled out for India’s defeat in Rajkot.
Kohli too agrees with Gavaskar.
“He (Dhoni) hit a six in Delhi and it was shown five times in the post-match show. Everyone was really happy. Suddenly he doesn’t score in one game, and we are after his life,” Kohli said.
“I think 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 his game. I don’t think anyone else has the right to decide that for him,” the skipper added.
Dhoni quit Test cricket three years ago when nobody expected him to. But Kohli put his foot down on the age-debate, brushing it aside as a mere number.
“First I don’t understand why people are only pointing him out. If I fail as a batsman three times, nobody is going to point a finger at me because I am not over 35. The guy is fit, passing all the fitness tests. He is contributing to the team in every way possible – tactically and with the bat.
“If you look at the series against Sri Lanka and Australia, he did really well. In this series, he hasn’t got much time to bat, I would say. You have to understand the position he comes in to bat. Even Hardik (Pandya) could not score in that game (second T20I). So why are we only pointing at one man? We are conveniently targeting just one man, which is not fair.
“We have to look at the fact that by the time he comes in, either the (required) run rate is already over 8 and 9 and the wicket is also not the same as it was with the new ball. Obviously, batsmen at the top find it easier to strike the ball compared to the guys who come lower down the order,” Kohli added.
Kohli also said that “management understands” the role of each individual in the squad.
“As a management, we understand the situation people go to bat in. We don’t get emotional and excited with opinions of people who are looking at things from a different point of view. When you are on the field, you are looking at how the wicket is behaving and different situations.
“I think he (Dhoni) is doing absolutely fine, working hard at his game and understand his role, but it doesn’t come off every time.”