Gillette ODI Series v India
'It was an MS classic': Kohli praises Dhoni
Indian skipper lauds veteran after match-sealing knock against Australia in Adelaide
16 January 2019, 04:05 PM AEST
Skipper Virat Kohli says MS Dhoni’s match-sealing innings in Adelaide proves the veteran should “absolutely” be part of India’s team leading into this year’s World Cup.
Dhoni’s second half-century of the series, an unbeaten 55 that secured a six-wicket win, comes after a lean 2018 that saw him average just 25 from 13 innings at an uncharacteristic strike rate of 71.
The World Cup winning skipper was even booed during a sluggish innings at Lord’s in July, which led to a swift rebuke of those critics from Kohli, though former opener Virender Sehwag suggested “age is surely catching up” with the 37-year-old veteran of 334 one-day internationals.
But Kohli said Dhoni’s calm finish in Adelaide, which he labelled “an MS classic”, was a timely reminder of the former captain’s class.
“Absolutely, there’s no doubt he should be part of this team,” Kohli said ahead of the series decider in Melbourne on Friday.
“When you haven’t played so much cricket (recently), you take a bit of time to get back into the groove.
“And tonight was an MS classic.
“He takes the game to the end when only he knows what’s going on in his mind. He calculates the game so well and he backs himself to hit those big shots when required. So hats off to him.”
More than four years since he retired from Test cricket, Dhoni’s future with the national team has been a source of constant speculation as he enters his 15th year of international cricket.
The veteran was not picked for the recent T20 series in Australia – he has returned to the 20-over squad for their upcoming games in New Zealand – and the emergence of Rishabh Pant and career resurgence of Dinesh Karthik means India have two highly-capable wicketkeeper-batsmen in reserve.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan said this week Pant “has to” be in India’s ODI side, although he did not call for Dhoni to be moved on.
Kohli said Dhoni’s experience was pivotal in the pair’s match-winning partnership in Adelaide, saying the senior man had had a calming influence during the skipper’s 39th ODI hundred.
“MS was as composed as ever (and) he kept me calm as well,” Kohli said.
“He thought I was going to get overexcited and play a bad shot.
“But that’s why we bat well together; we try and help each other, and tonight was special for both of us.”
Karthik, who played as a frontline No.6 batsman in Adelaide and iced the game with an unbeaten 25 from 14 balls, said he and Dhoni always felt in control of the chase.
"It was the kind of innings he's played over and over again,” he said.
“So it was great to watch him bat and finish off an innings, and we know he can absorb pressure and release it back to the opponents when the time is right.
“That's always been his strength and today you saw the perfect example of that.”
Gillette ODI Series v India
Australia ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Peter Siddle, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa
India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Vijay Shankar, Shubman Gill
First ODI: Australia won by 34 runs
Second ODI: India win by six wickets
Third ODI: January 18, MCG (D/N)