A Jamaican love story: Kohli backs a struggling MS Dhoni

India skipper says any batsman can get stuck at the crease, urges fans to be patient with former captain

KINGSTON: Virat Kohli’s record 28th century helped India secure a eight-wicket win over West Indies in the fifth and final ODI at Sabina Park. The India skipper’s ton, his 18th while chasing, helped India seal a seventh consecutive bilateral series win over the West Indies.

While all the focus was on Kohli’s form and the continued consistency of the India team, there was one issue which Kohli confronted after the end of the match.

MS Dhoni had endured a mixed tour of the Caribbean. In the third ODI at the Sir Vivian Richards Ground in Antigua, the former India skipper had blasted 78 off 79 balls to help India to a 93-run win. However, in the next match at the same venue, Dhoni crawled to 54 off 114 balls as India lost by 11 runs.

Dhoni’s fifty off 108 balls, the slowest by an India player in 16 years, had drawn plenty of criticism. However, Kohli was not too concerned about Dhoni’s form and said one need not tell the former skipper how to bat in a pressure situation.

“I think we get too impatient after just one game. That can happen to anyone. Any batsman can struggle and can get stuck at the crease. Even if you’re in top form, it can happen to you, so I don’t think there’s any issue,” Kohli said.

FINISHING TROUBLES

Dhoni has acquired the reputation of being India’s finisher par excellence in limited-overs cricket. However, in the last couple of seasons, the former India skipper has struggled to finish matches. His slowest fifty in the Antigua ODI only added to the list of matches where he has not taken India past the line.

His troubles started on the 2014 tour of England and in the one-off T20I. In the final over, India needed 17 to win with Dhoni at the crease but he failed to get India over the line as they lost by three runs, with Dhoni controversially not taking runs in a couple of deliveries.

In the Kanpur ODI against South Africa in 2015, India needed 11 runs off the final over but Dhoni could not capitalise and India lost by five runs.

He finally regained his touch in the Sydney ODI against Australia in 2016 as India managed to get 13 runs in the final over as they avoided a 5-0 whitewash. However, Dhoni once again struggled to get India over the line in two subsequent Twenty20 Internationals.

In the game against Zimbabwe in Harare in 2016, Dhoni could not score eight off the final over as India lost by two runs. In the T20I against West Indies in Lauderhill, chasing a record 246, Dhoni again failed as India lost by one run.

GREAT FORM

Prior to the series against the West Indies, Dhoni had smashed a century against England at home and scored a valuable 63 against Sri Lanka at the Oval in the ICC Champions Trophy that allowed India to post a healthy score.

Kohli pointed out that one odd instance does not diminish Dhoni’s confidence.

“I think it was only the last game where he couldn’t rotate strike. He’s striking the ball beautifully. You don’t need to tell him anything in terms of how to play a situation or how to build an innings,” Kohli added.

Kohli’s support for Dhoni highlights the respect that he has for the former India skipper. Before the start of the ICC Champions Trophy, Kohli had called Dhoni ‘priceless’ and stated that he hoped to lead India forward.

“India have been led so beautifully by MS. I am doing what is in my little ability to take the team forward and repeat the same performances,” Kohli had said at that time.

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