India skipper Virat Kohli on Thursday put his weight behind under-fire Mahendra Singh Dhoni, describing him as a legend of the game whose keen understanding and experience has held the team in good stead.
Dhoni faced criticism for his failure to rotate the strike against Afghanistan spinners and even against the West Indies, the former India skipper initially found the going tough before he got 16 in the final over to finish on 56 off 61 deliveries and take India to 268 for seven.
“Dhoni knows exactly what he wants to do in the middle. When he has an off day here and there, everyone starts talking. We always back him. He has won us so many games,” Kohli said after India dismissed West Indies for 143 in 34.2 overs to notch up a 125-run win here.
“The best thing about having someone like him is when you need those 15-20 runs, he knows exactly how to get them. His experience, 8 out of 10 times has come good for us.
“We have quite a few players who play instinctive cricket and follow their game plans. He’s such a keen understanding of the game. Always sends us feedback, that you know 260 is a good score. He’s a legend of the game. We all know that.”
India dethroned England to rise to the top of One-day International rankings and Kohli said he is happy with his team’s overall performance.
“I can’t complain, we just became no. 1 yesterday as far as rankings are concerned, to be honest, we are playing that way for a while, need to continue that way. Things haven’t gone our way with the bat in the last two games, but we have still done well to win, that’s being the most pleasing thing,” he said.
Kohli scored two successive fifties in difficult conditions—a 67 off 63 balls against Afghanistan and 72 off 82 balls against West Indies Thursday.
“I am Happy with my own contribution as well. We were in a similar situation today (150 odd for 4), but getting to 270 was crucial. Last game, we didn’t calculate well, we lost two quick wickets, but today we improved,” said the India skipper, who was adjudged the Man of the match for his crucial fifty.
“I look to play in my own way, happy to take the ones and twos which I think is a big factor in ODI cricket. Two difficult pitches, I’m happy with my contribution and look forward to doing more of the same in the future.”
Kohli also praised Hardik Pandya (46 off 38) and Dhoni for taking India to a competitive total.
“Hardik played really well and MS finished strongly. When those two play in that way, we always get to a good total. To get to 270 was good, that put pressure on their batting and was very difficult to chase,” he said.
“I don’t need to tell anything to my batsmen, they have to adjust according to their strengths and weaknesses and play according to the pitch.”
West Indies skipper Jason Holder blamed his side’s inconsistent batting for their 125-run loss.
“Thought the bowlers did a fantastic job on this surface. Just let ourselves down with the bat. In hindsight, Dhoni’s (stumping) miss a crucial moment we didn’t seize,” he said.
“Let ourselves down significantly in this tournament. Missed a few chances in the field which cost us. Batting was too inconsistent. Can’t fault the bowlers. Need to improve. Probably our weakest format, this.
“Kemar Roach was outstanding today. Youngsters have chipped in here and there. Bowlers had a reasonable campaign. Can’t fault their efforts. Fielding, definitely has to improve. So does the batting.”