Australia v India, World T20 2016, Group 2, Mohali March 27, 2016

Dhoni hails Kohli's 'incredible innings'

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'Tremendous effort by Kohli' - Dhoni

Videos of MS Dhoni losing his composure at a press conference after India's win over Bangladesh caught many by surprise. However on Sunday, the lighter side of the captain resurfaced as he doffed his hat to Virat Kohli for converting a daunting chase at the halfway mark into a canter.

Kohli, not for the first time, expertly steered India home, the hallmark of his unbeaten 51-ball 82 being his supreme fitness and ability to find the boundaries at will; he hit nine fours and two sixes in all. Equally creditable was the manner in which he overcame pockets of frustration after struggling to pick up twos when Yuvraj Singh twisted his ankle. For a while, India's momentum stalled, only for Kohli to tee off in style in Dhoni's company.

"I think it was an incredible innings," Dhoni said. "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. 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."

Dhoni downplayed his role in their partnership, suggesting Kohli's aggressive running resulting in Steven Smith altering his field, only to see the ball pierce gaps at will. "I'm not somebody like Virat who can hit it over cover, square leg or third man. I know my areas, and if it's there I like to clear the boundary. That's what my strength has been," he said. "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."

It's not often that Dhoni, one of the fastest runners between the wickets in the modern day, is left panting. But the sprinter in Kohli surfaced soon after Yuvraj's dismissal as he pinched six twos, including four off the 16th over at a time when the match was still in the balance with India needing 47. Dhoni's contribution was 18 in the unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 67.

Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni ran hard during an unbroken, 67-run stand that sealed victory © AFP

"He needs to pay me for running all his runs," Dhoni joked, when asked about completing runs that wouldn't have been possible most times. "I've said in the middle overs if you're a good runner that really takes the pressure of you. 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.

"Every team has fielders who are not the quickest. There are those who are quick but don't have a strong shoulder. There are only a few, with us we have Ravindra Jadeja who can field anywhere and everywhere, we have a Virat Kohli who can do that. But not every team has four or five fielders who can field at important places. That's where you find them and when it goes there I'll try to push him for that extra run. And if you do that, it puts a lot of pressure on the bowlers."

There was a point in India's chase where it seemed like they had hit a road block. Yuvraj, who walked in at No. 5, hurt his ankle and had to be attended to by the physio. After that, India missed at least three opportunities to pick a second run, raising question marks over his fitness. While Yuvraj soldiered on to make an 18-ball 21, the discomfort while running between the wickets was evident.

Dhoni wasn't sure about the extent of Yuvraj's injury but mentioned the need to have a replacement ready should they need one going into the semi-final, against West Indies on Thursday. "We have to look at Yuvraj's injury," he said. "Especially tomorrow morning or close to 24 hours you will get a good opinion about what kind of injury it is.

"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."

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • DhOniAbdevilliers on March 29, 2016, 11:43 GMT

    Similar match between srilanka and south Africa Yesterday Chase Master Hasim amla played till End & match was finished by Devilliers and Day before match was finished by Dhoni.Both are best Finisher in the World

  • cricfanraj on March 29, 2016, 9:01 GMT

    Rolling Dhawan's head is a mandatory now. Even if he plays one great innings next match. We cannot have so inconsistent opening pair. Out of two Rohit is better batsmen so Dhawan must go. As of now India is winning only on Virat batting with good support from Dhoni and little bit but important support from Yuvi. On raina we can wait bit long .

  •   Vignesh Viky on March 29, 2016, 7:18 GMT

    my hero da the king of virat kohli

  • ManuJiBhai on March 28, 2016, 18:52 GMT

    I think Raina has lost some fitness - he needs to work harder

  • i_love_indian_team on March 28, 2016, 18:41 GMT

    Raina and Yuvraj are different sides of the same coin. They both perform well in batting wickets, have problems against short deliveries, good fielders, part time bowlers etc. The problem is, both do not click on the same game. If Raina gets out early, mostly can expect Yuvraj will get out early as well. I know that lately Yuvraj was in a few partner ships with Kohli, but he is well past his prime. I strongly believe Manish Pandey we have a strong middle order batsman and he should be included instead of either Raina or Yuvraj.

    Also, Shikhar has been enjoying his position for a long time without producing any results. I guess it is time for us to change him with either Rahane or some one else. Rohit is not very successful recently. I hope he finds his form back.

  • bijuouseph on March 28, 2016, 17:00 GMT

    May be first innings also Kohli can play well, if screen will show the target run!!!!

  • cheeeerss4india on March 28, 2016, 14:35 GMT

    Look at the way of getting out of these batsman like Rohit,Dhawan and Raina.It seems like these batsmen are very irresponsible and already aware that somebody will take that responsibility.The way they are throwing their wickets seems like they are more interested in sitting in dug outs.If a bowler is bowling a decent over cant Rohit defend that over to wait for the next over rather than to play rash shots? Raina seems very unconfident,he can't even hit the ball properly.His shots are uncontrolled and going in the air all the time.I don't want to say about Dhawan,just want to say replace him.

  • Nampally on March 28, 2016, 13:36 GMT

    Kohli pulled India from the brink of defeat to an amazing victory. Indian batting was poor to start with & till last 6 overs it looked that the Aussies would win easily. Then the genius of Kohli's batting kicked in. It was a magnificent innings full of glorious strokes, well timed & well placed. He treated the pace bowlers Faulkner & Nile with scant respect with their 17th & 18th overs yielding 35 runs. Kohli finished with a majestic 82* at a S/R of 160. The rest of the batting looked poor at best with Dhoni the other contributer with 18* at a better S/R then Kohli. This Indian batting with 3 out of top 4 not putting up good scores need to perform if India is to win the WC. The bowlers did an adequate job despite Ashwin's worst 2 overs. So both bowling & batting need addressing despite Dhoni's policy of unchanged XI in every match.

  • o.m.nousath on March 28, 2016, 10:12 GMT

    just simple philosophy from captain cool "running hard between the wickets ".Smith wanted to prevent twos then fours are coming easily from Mr.Chase Master. Wow amazing plan !!!!

  • JshBalaji on March 28, 2016, 7:26 GMT

    Dhoni's humility at its core .. " I'm not somebody who is great. I play unorthodox cricket,"

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