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Kohli Dhoni

'There's been no one more committed to Indian cricket than MS Dhoni' – Virat Kohli

Aus v Ind, 3rd ODI, reaction

Virat Kohli has expressed his happiness with MS Dhoni’s performances during India’s 2-1 series win over Australia, after a third consecutive half-century from the former India captain sealed victory in Melbourne.

Dhoni, batting at four, guided a successful chase for his side for the second game running, as an unbeaten 87 helped India to another last-over win.

Speaking to reporters after the conclusion of the game, Kohli discussed Dhoni’s strong run of form, saying: “As a team we’re very happy for MS. We’re happy that he’s amongst the runs because it’s very important to get runs under your belt to get that rhythm and get that confidence back, especially when you’re not playing so much international cricket.

“From that point of view I think it’s a great thing for the team that he’s come here and scored in all three games, and we feel that he will definitely build on this performance and this series from here on in New Zealand and back home as well. He’ll feel pretty confident about his rhythm as a batsman, and every batsman needs that whether it’s a club game or an international game, you need runs next to your name to gain confidence.”

Dhoni’s efforts saw him claim the Player of the Series award, a welcome feat for the wicket-keeper after a lean 2018 saw him average just 25, with no half-centuries to his name. Nevertheless, Kohli emphasised on Dhoni’s legacy within Indian cricket.  

“Many things happen on the outside, people say a lot of things but as an individual we know that there's been no one more committed to Indian cricket than MS Dhoni,” said Kohli. “I think people should let him have his space because he’s contributed so much for the nation, they should just let him figure out things on his own about his game and what he needs to do.”

Kohli also explained the decision behind leaving out Kuldeep Yadav, ranked No. 3 in the MRF Tyres ICC Men's ODI Player Rankings for bowling, from the playing XI in the deciding ODI. In his place came leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who recorded figures of 6/42, the joint-best ODI return for a bowler in Australia. Kuldeep’s omission came after he went wicketless in the second ODI at Adelaide.

"We felt like they [Australia’s batsmen] were reading Kuldeep quite well,” said Kohli. “They were able to score singles easily off him and they were picking his variations from the hand very well, so we thought it might not be a bad thing to bring in Chahal just for a variation, also because we were bringing in Kedhar [Jadhav], who’s an off-spinner who gives us an option against left-handers. So Chahal became a more sensible option for us in that regard because he spins the ball back in.

“Credit has to go to him because the way he bowled in his first game of the tour is absolutely outstanding – to take six wickets at the MCG is no small feat for a spinner and I’m really happy for him. He’s a very intelligent bowler and he gets us those breakthroughs. Him and Kuldeep together are definitely a force to reckon with. When they play together, it's our most potent spin-bowling attack that we’ve experienced in the past. But just to strike the balance within the team, Kuldeep had to make way for Chahal this game.”

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