Virat Kohli has castigated all those criticizing MS Dhoni stating that the former Indian skipper was a target of some unfair criticism. Kohli has also emphasized on the latter’s fitness level despite his age adding that Dhoni will be the one to decide his retirement date and nobody else.
In Rajkot, Dhoni scored 49 runs off 37 balls at a strike-rate of 132.43 but his first 25 runs had come at a run-a-ball, which eventually took the asking rate beyond 15 runs an over. The former Indian captain struggled to hit the big shots against the spinners while at the same time, Kohli struck a brisk half-century. Dhoni's innings drew a lot of flak from some former Indian players including VVS Laxman and Ajit Agarkar, who went as far as to suggest Dhoni to call it quits from the shortest format of the game.
However, Kohli opined that it was unfair to single out Dhoni's innings for India's defeat in the Rajkot T20I and hailed his former skipper as a valuable lower-order batsman, keeper, and an astute tactical leader.
“I don’t understand why people are only pointing him out. If I fail as a batsman three times, no one is going to point a finger at me because I am not over 35. The guy is fit, he is passing all the fitness tests, he is contributing in every way possible tactically with the bat,” said Kohli of his former captain, reported PTI.
Kohli reminded the success that Dhoni had in India’s two previous limited-overs series - against Australia at home and against Sri Lanka away, to prove his point.
“If you look at the series against Sri Lanka and Australia, he did really well, and in this series, he hasn’t got much time to bat I would say. In the Kanpur game (the third ODI, where Dhoni made 25 off 17 after coming in in the 44th over) as well. Look, you have to understand the position he comes into bat, even Hardik (Pandya) could not score in that game, so why are we only pointing out one man? Hardik got out in the last T20 we played in Rajkot as well. We are conveniently just targeting one man which is not fair."
While Dhoni usually bats at No. 5 or 6, giving him less time to build a knock in the latter half of an innings, in the second T20I in Rajkot, Dhoni walked out at No. 6 when India were 67 for 4 and needed 130 runs in just under 11 overs. Kohli believed the criticism against Dhoni for that innings was unfair as the required run rate had already gone past 11 runs an over when he came out to bat.
“We have to look at the fact that by the time he comes in, either the required run-rate is eight and a half or nine and a half, and the wicket is also not the same as what it is when the new ball is being bowled,” continued Kohli. “Obviously, the batsmen that are set from the top, they find it easier to strike the ball straightaway than the guys who come lower down the order. Also, the kind of wicket that we have played on, the wear and tear
"As team management and players, we understand the situations in which he goes out to bat. We don't get emotional and excited by the opinions of people who are looking at things from a different point of view. If you are playing, you know how the wicket is and what the situation is like. So, I think he is doing absolutely fine. He understands his game, he understands his role, but it doesn't come off every time. He hit a six in Delhi and it was shown five times in the post-match show. Everyone got really happy. And suddenly he doesn't score in one game and we are after his life. I think people need to be a bit more patient. He's a guy who understands various cricketers. He's a very smart guy. He understands where he stands with his body, with his game. So I don't think anyone else has the right to decide that for him," the Indian skipper concluded.