Manchester: For Mahendra Singh Dhoni bashers, his knock of 56 is a big setback. After his slow knock against Afghanistan, many were gearing up to point fingers at his ability to bat quickly. The call to replace aging Dhoni with Rishabh Pant had been gaining momentum, but Team India players want his inspiring presence.
Before the pre-match press conference for the India-West Indies match, bowling coach Bharat Arun was even asked whether the head coach or coaching staff talks to Dhoni when he plays a slow inning. Arun wriggled out of the question saying that the coaching staff is in constant conversation with everyone.
After Dhoni and Kohli pulled India out of trouble, now the feeling among opponents could be that it would have been better to have Pant join Kohli in the middle overs rather than Dhoni. However, right now an aging Dhoni, whom some address as ‘old Dhoni’, is proving to be gold.
After winning over the West Indies, the Indian skipper pointed out the role that Dhoni's experience plays for India during crunch situations. “Dhoni knows exactly what he wants to do in the middle. When he has an off day here and there, everyone starts talking. But we always back him. He has won us so many games. The best thing about having someone like him is that when you need those 15-20 runs, he knows exactly how to get them.”
The skipper also pointed out that Dhoni experience gives him the ability to handle any situation well. “He (Dhoni) knows how to bat with the tail too. His experience, eight out of 10 times, works for us.”
He also revealed that it is Dhoni who sends out the message as to what is the score one should look for while batting. “We have quite a few players who play instinctive cricket. He's one guy who sends gives us an idea of what the par score should be on a pitch.” The team then follows his guidance. “If he says 265 is a good score on a pitch, we don't aim for 300. He's a legend for us, and hopefully he'll continue.”
Kohli admitted that batting wasn’t easy against Afghanistan and West Indies. “In the last two games, things haven't gone the way we would have like it to go. These haven't been massive scoring games. But we've found ways of winning. Intensity and mindset have been the standout things for me. We now feel we can win from any situation.”
The Indian skipper is not into micro-managing his team and instructing them how to bat. “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. Hardik (Pandya) played really well and MS(Dhoni) 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.”
Right now the skipper and his team are savouring the delight of moving to the No.1 slot in ICC ODI ranking. “We've just got on to the top spot yesterday. But as far as rankings are concerned, we've been playing this way for a while now, and need to maintain this. Although things did not go completely our way in the last two games, we have won and that's the most pleasing thing