Indian skipper Virat Kohli defended MS Dhoni after his side’s World Cup campaign was ended by New Zealand at the Old Trafford on Wednesday.
The Men in Blue, chasing 240 to win, fell 18 runs short of victory as they suffered a second semi-final exit in a row after topping the league stage. A 116-run partnership between Ravindra Jadeja and Dhoni gave India hope but New Zealand regained the initiative when the former was dismissed for a brilliant 77.
Dhoni’s 72-ball 50 was more controversial, with some fans claiming the 38-year-old batted too slowly and put too much pressure on Jadeja.
After the match, captain Kohli was asked whether Dhoni’s strike-rate was an issue, to which he replied: “Well, look, it’s always, you know, a safer option to look at it from outside and say, ‘Maybe this could have happened’. But I think today he was batting with Jadeja and there was only Bhuvu to follow after so he had to hold one end together in my opinion.
“And because Jadeja was playing so well you needed a solid partnership and to get a 100 partnership from that situation I think it had to be the right balance of one guy holding an end and Jadeja playing the way he did, his knock was outstanding.
“So as I said, when you don’t win in hindsight, a lot of things can reflect in different manners but you have to understand how the game panned out and until what stage did the game go.
“And you would obviously expect New Zealand to fight back at some stage because the target was steep after losing five or six wickets, but the way they batted together, I think it was the perfect tempo for that situation, in my opinion,” Kohli added.
Earlier, New Zealand posted a fighting 239 for 8 thanks to half-centuries from Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor.
The Kiwi captain Williamson said: “It was a really tough match and I’m very proud to finish on the right side of it. ‘The guys were really clinical in that middle to back-end stage of our innings; there were a lot of contributions in this match that went a long way to getting us across the line.
“It was a great start from the bowlers but we knew that as it slowed up it was going to be a tight squeeze.
“India are a world-class side but the heart we showed was outstanding,” he added.
— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) July 10, 2019