KL Rahul was all-praise for MS Dhoni, after his good knock against Sri Lanka, stating that the former Indian skipper will always be a match-winner for Indian cricket team. The Indian opener also expressed his happiness after scoring a much-needed half-century in the first T20I of the series.
Dhoni had come under harsh criticisms after failing to finish off India’s second T20I against New Zealand that had leveled the series 1-1. Former cricketers like Ajit Agarkar and VVS Laxman had even suggested selectors that Dhoni should step down from the shortest format and give youngsters more chances. However, riding on firm support from his skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri, the wicketkeeper batsman has returned to his explosive best yet again, answering his critics aptly.
The latest such example has been the ongoing Sri Lanka series, where Dhoni has proved his worth on multiple occasions. After scoring 65 runs on the struggling pitch of Dharamsala in the first ODI, he was also a key player in Cuttack on Wednesday, as his quick-firing 39 helped India to post a target of 180.
“I think he is in great shape, he almost killed me as soon as he came into bat. I don’t know what form you are talking about but every time I switch on the TV or every time I have played with him, he always seems to get the runs. The last time we were here in Cuttack, he got a massive hundred against England and he has been contributing really well in every game,” said Rahul as quoted by The Indian Express.
Coming in the 13th over, Dhoni started to score quickly, which has been a problem with him of late, hitting four boundaries and one six in 22 deliveries. Rahul, however, couldn’t stay on for longer alongside him as he lost his wicket to Thisara Perera after jointly adding 12 more runs to the score board.
“He is somebody we all look up to, he is somebody who is a match-winner and he will always be one. It’s not a bad thing that the top three is scoring runs for any team but yes I think in the last three or four series, the middle order and the lower order have also contributed a lot and that’s why I think we have been successful and winning so consistently,” he said.
Rahul has featured in ten T20I matches for India in which he scored 365 runs at an average of 52.14. The right-hand batsman, who scored a century while playing at No. 4, said that it is difficult for a middle-order batsman to do the job all the time.
“For a middle-order batsman, when he walks in, it’s not the easiest, you need to get on with the game as soon as you can. You need to maintain a certain strike rate so it can’t be easy but that’s how the sport is, it’s not easy for anybody batting anywhere,” he said.
The 25-year-old showed a strong batting performance against the Lankan Lions as he scored 61 runs on 48 balls which was the foundation for India’s mammoth target that was furthered by Dhoni and Manish Pandey. Highlighting the current players' skills, Rahul stated that it not only creates a good competition between players, but also helps in strengthening the team.
“Every innings is important and with the kind of competition that is in the team, whatever opportunities you get, you need to go out there and make it count, try to do your best and that’s what I did. I tried to keep things simple and I’m very glad that it came off today.”