India v Australia, 1st Test, Chennai, 3rd day February 24, 2013

Kohli lauds Dhoni special

ESPNcricinfo staff

It is not often a Virat Kohli century can be outshone or overshadowed. At its best, it is usually an exquisite construction of beauty, timing, balance and precision. But given that his captain had taken ownership of an entire day with an innings of utter dominance, Kohli fittingly opened his media interaction with a statement before taking questions. "First I'll speak on the captain's innings," he said.

He called M S Dhoni's 206 not out, "a great display of batting" in "temperament, hitting the ball cleanly and assessing the situation." When asked whether No. 6 was an ideal batting position for Dhoni going into the future, he said it "might be the trick that will work with the batting order for us."

Kohli did say he had not seen him batting at No. 6 often. He said Dhoni at No. 7 spot doesn't have enough time to get big runs. "People started doubting his Test batting, because he wasn't getting ample opportunities. If the team is five down, you have to negotiate the pressure, then you expect the guy to get a hundred every four games. It's pretty difficult."

The No. 6 position would give Dhoni, Kohli said, "ample opportunity to get settled and analyse the situation. Once he's settled, he is one of the most experienced guys to play with the lower order, he knows how to play with the tail. So yes, that's a huge difference he could make at No. 6 going ahead in Test matches."

Kohli said it was easier to maintain the tempo of an innings like today in ODIs where he had seen Dhoni score 183 against Sri Lanka batting at No. 3. "It's very easy to go for your shots in one-dayers. You don't have to think too much when you're in that kind of flow. But [in Tests] to actually analyse the situation, to play with the tailender, to take strike when wanted, to defend when wanted, hit the ball when needed… in Test matches it's not easy to bat with the lower order and to get a double hundred is a commendable thing."

Kohli said India had played the day much like they had planned it. They had expected Australia to use reverse swing with the old ball in the first session. "Pattinson was bowling really well with the old ball, reversing at pace. We decided to give respect to the bowlers bowing well. We knew if we batted the whole day, we'll have a considerable lead and we'll be in a great position in this Test. It was all about giving respect to good bowling and capitalising later on loose deliveries which MS and I were able to do."

Dhoni, he said had come out to bat with a clear idea about his approach. "He didn't want to talk about the game, he didn't want to talk about cricket. He said just talk about something else to me." His instructions to Kohli were simple: "Don't ask about how the wicket was, how the bowling was, nothing. He was pretty relaxed and calm so he didn't want to talk a lot about the game. He was pretty sure what he wanted to do out in the middle."

Australia paid heavily going in with a single specialist spinner, Kohli said, as the wicket had begun to break on day three. After it had "evened out and eased up" on day two, he got one ball from Nathan Lyon shooting under his bat and the other hitting him on the chest. "I was pretty surprised with how quickly the wicket was coming off. If they [Australia] had more slow bowlers in the team you would have seen the difference of that wicket. The spinners are going to get a lot of turn and bounce tomorrow with the hard ball. That's going to be the crucial thing - the wicket is getting roughed up by the day."

Speaking of his own batting, Kohli said he had been disappointed to get out soon after his hundred and called it, "this block I am facing - when I get 100 I get out." He said, "As a batsman you would love to get big runs when you've scored century from a tough situation, you don't want to throw it away." His dismissal today - caught at mid-on by Mitchell Starc off Lyon - came because he got too close to the ball.

"I was disappointed I got out. But I knew I wanted to go for that shot, so I went for it hundred percent. But I got too close to the ball and just didn't get the elevation. But next time you can only learn from mistakes. I'll try and erase all these errors that I have been doing after getting centuries."

Kohli said the century, the fourth of his Test career, had brought him extra pleasure as it followed a poor run against England and Pakistan. He had taken time away from the game to get ready for Australia. "Sometimes you just need to get away from the game and get your mind fresh and get back on track. I was feeling hungry for this series. I was eagerly waiting to get into the field and bat and feeling that is important for a cricketer."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 27, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    its was a real team effort... one should not also dwarf the innings' of Pujara & Sachin as they set the tone after a shaky start... also spinners did a good job...

  • Dummy4 on February 25, 2013, 7:07 GMT

    Great innings by Dhoni. It doesn't matter whether he succeeded in Australia or not, he produced a great innings when it mattered most. We are discussing his innings not if he is the greatest batsman. BTW, Virat played a good innings, but I didn't like the way he got out. After scoring a century, he should have taken a fresh guard, put his down and started his innings all over again. He should try to emulate Rahul Dravid not SRT. In future, India will be depending lot more on Pujara and Kholi.

  • Simon on February 25, 2013, 3:56 GMT

    Surely one of the great test innings. Dhoni in with India maybe slightly under par but was assertive throughout in breaking even then taking control. Kohli of course is talking the pitch down for Oz batsmen benefit but so far it is apparent that if you get in a big score is possible. Spinning is a mind game but batsman need to move their feet. The Indians took on Lyon and have done ok but he has no support. He is as good a bowler as Ashwin who got 7 wickets. That says the Oz batting is weak apart from Watson and Clarke and the selectors are stupid.

  • Khooni on February 25, 2013, 3:53 GMT

    @BradmanBestEver: Your team's attack is not inexpreienced. Young, yes... but it is not lacking in any respect. Pattinson, Starc, Cummins have shown signs of beyond their age. After getting wickets on Chennai track, you can not ignore the capability of fast bowler. Moreover, going by Dhoni's run of form in tests and way of playing, It is big achievement that he hit double, totally worth crowing about @Deepal Karunaratne: "Indian Batters can perform like this only on their flat wickets" ... ? Our batters were not doing that even on flat tracks in past few home series. So yes, they are at least back in groove.

  • Dummy4 on February 25, 2013, 3:07 GMT

    no indian batsman can deliver as expected on fast tracks unless he is a superhuman. we've grown playing on slow tracks and its impossible to deliver the same under fast conditions when compared to the other way around. if its possible bcci should think of preparing fast tracks in india.

  • Satish Chandar on February 25, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    Please stop the FLAT WICKET syndrome. Call them as "Test" wickets for bowlers. Should fast bowlers always bowl on grassy, juicy, bouncy wickets? Who is going to test them? Let them learn the technique of reverse swing and come to bowl in these conditions. You can't be spoonfed always.

  • Syed on February 25, 2013, 1:54 GMT

    This is what I like about Dhoni. When the occasion demands he comes forward to take the pressure and diffuses it. He is bringing in the best of T20 and ODI in Tests with a strike rate of 86. He is an amazing guy as a batsman and as a leader. His class is different. He plays all the strokes in the book and out of it including his helicopter shot - his very own invention as the hoick of Azharuddin over the extra cover or mid off. But his helicopter shot is on the on side. Love you Dhoni. Cricket lovers all over the world love you. Keep up the good work.

  • Sam on February 25, 2013, 1:46 GMT

    I am going to quote what Kohli said again: "Sometimes you just NEED TO GET AWAY FROM THE GAME AND GET YOUR MIND FRESH and get back on track. I was feeling HUNGRY for this series. I was eagerly waiting to get into the field and bat and feeling that is important for a cricketer." HELLO ICC & BCCI ADMINISTRATORS! Are you listening? When we have endless cricket (especially a lot meaningless ODIs &T20s), you are reducing the VALUE of cricket to the players AND fans. Someone, with constant reminder from astute JOURNALISTS, must show LEADERSHIP in this matter because eventually, if all we get is a lot of LOW QUALITY Cricket, don't expect us to STICK around for too long without switching to a different sport 'BRAND'. When we do, the sponsors won't stick around and the marketing folks who merely do number crunching WITHOUT A VISION or PASSION for cricket, will only come up with some excuse or just go 'oops'.

  • Murray on February 25, 2013, 1:34 GMT

    Incredible and wonderful innings by Dhoni !

    I also thought Tendulkar and Pujara batted beautifully !

    Congrats to Kohli also - although I feel he took "impetus" (along with strike ) from Tendulkar on 2nd afternoon.

  • arnab on February 25, 2013, 1:29 GMT

    cpt. meanster- i think dhonis innings was amazing given his aggression BUT after we all saw Dhoni painfully out of his depth in Australia and then suddenly score a double hundred in INDIA, you cant blame us for attributing it somewhat to the slower flatter wickets

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