India captain MS Dhoni showered praise on man-of-the-match Virat Kohli after his 51-ball-82 steered India to the semis beating Australia. Dhoni had a 67-run partnership with Kohli to win the game for India, but played down his role in the partnership humbly, claiming he wasn’t as versatile as Virat.
Dhoni, who yet again hit the winning runs for India last night, spoke humbly in the aftermath. "I'm not somebody like Virat who can hit it over cover, square leg or third man. I 'm not somebody who is great. I play unorthodox cricket, push it in the middle, and run one or two. If it is in your area, hit it for six. It is very simple.” smiled the 34-year old. “I know my areas, and if it's there I like to clear the boundary. That's what my strength has been," he said.
But, Dhoni knows that Virat is a special talent and this knock, like Virat said, was arguably his best, given the conditions and the slowness of the pitch. "I think it was an incredible innings. The fact is this wasn't an easy wicket to bat on. Back-of-length deliveries were difficult to get away, especially against the spinners,” continued the captain.
The fact that Steve Smith didn’t bowl out his spinners helped India’s cause. “The good thing was I don't think they bowled too many spinners. Also, in between, he [Kohli] was hampered when he had the partnership with Yuvraj and they couldn't convert those one-and-a-half runs to twos. Maybe because of that, to some extent, we had to chase maybe one run per over more than what we would have liked.
"It was tremendous batting effort from him, superb batting. Especially the areas where you want to score runs, where you want to play big shots. I think more often than not, it is about selection of shots and execution of shots. I feel overall, Virat was very good not just with his strokeplay but also in the running between the wickets - you take minimum risk if you can run fast."
With the Indian innings limping in the middle overs, the importance of running between the wickets was more than palpable. "In the middle overs it's all about running between the wickets. If you can take the double, that puts pressure on the fielders. And it pushes the captain to bring the fielder up slowly, and then you look to clear the infield."
The only downside of the win was Yuvraj’s injury and Dhoni didn’t exactly know how bad it was. "We have to look at Yuvraj's injury. Especially tomorrow morning or close to 24 hours you will get a good opinion about what kind of injury it is.”
Dhoni also added that the team would like to stay prepared in case of a worst-case scenario. "We would definitely like to keep a replacement ready, like you see how Bhuvneshwar [Kumar] is travelling with us. So that he is in touch with cricket, and travelling with us. So that he's in that mental space where if he has to play immediately, he's ready to perform. So we'll definitely call for a replacement if the physio says it's really bad, we'll take it forward from there," concluded the winning captain.