Mumbai: Mahendra Singh Dhoni is not someone who will fool around or heap praises on anyone for living. The Indian limited-overs skipper speaks as he bats: uncluttered, straightforward and effective. That was for all to see during his post-match interview as India beat Australia and secured a semifinal slot in the ICC World Twenty20 on Sunday.
He had the best seat in the house during Virat Kohli’s magical 82-run knock. And as in the past, Dhoni was wholesome in his praise for his ODI and T20 deputy.
“It’s not the first time I’ve enjoyed it (from the other end). He has been playing brilliantly over the last few years. He has kept improving his game. He is very hungry to score runs for the team and evolving with each match,” Dhoni said.
“It was an incredible innings. Especially the fact that the wicket was not easy to bat on, it was difficult to hit back of a length deliveries. It was a tremendous batting effort by him, super batting. Especially the areas you want to score runs, there also he was very good and so was his running between the wickets,” added Dhoni.
The right-hander soaked in all the pressure after India had lost Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina before crossing 50-run mark. Although Yuvraj Singh partnered Kohli briefly, the twisted left ankle hampered his movement and as was visible on Virat’s face, the running between the wickets.
Things turned for better for the home team after Dhoni joined Kohli in the middle. The duo ran like rabbits amidst some delightful boundary-hitting from Kohli.
While fans, like Dhoni, should cherish Virat’s fine run of form, Indian batting is fast becoming all-Kohli show. And cricket, being a team sport, an unfair 1-on-11 game far too often.
Although Team India is enjoying all the luck to be on the winning side barring the New Zealand defeat, it would augur well if the top order shapes up as India remain two wins away from becoming the first team to win the ICC World T20 twice.
Not that the likes of Rohit, Dhawan and Raina have not delivered when the team is in trouble, but they, unlike Kohli, lack consistency. The performance, thus far, in the tournament is testimony of the same. The trio, respectively have 45, 43 and 41 runs against their name while Kohli had amassed 184 runs in four games.
Dhoni, who has not hidden his disappointment on that, has asked the other batsmen to step up.
“The others (batsmen) have to step up now. We can’t keep relying on him (Kohli). I think the others are contributing but we need to step up our game. Barring Virat, we have been 60-65 percent in terms of our batting,” Dhoni said at the post-match presentation ceremony in Mohali.
The Indian bowlers are doing a remarkable job restricting the oppositions to below-par totals or defending the low scores. However, Indian batsmen, who were tipped to take the cake, barring Kohli, have failed to do what was expected of them.
Fortunately for the team and Indian fans, Kohli had carried them through till the semifinals, the onus is now on the likes of Rainas, Dhawans and Sharmas to team up with Kohli as India gear up for the West Indies clash at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday....