Purists have never really made their peace with M.S. Dhoni. The man from Jharkhand isn’t the one to lose sleep over public opinion.
On Sunday, Dhoni maimed the Australians with an undefeated double ton and fellow century-maker Virat Kohli was still awestruck when he addressed the media at close of play on day three.
When Kohli was asked about his knock as well as that of Sachin Tendulkar’s, he said he would first speak about “the captain’s innings.”
“If he bats like that, you don’t need to say much. Coming in after Tendulkar’s wicket, we needed a big partnership and he strung in one with me. When in form, he can hit the ball a mile and take the game away from the opposition. Very few people in the world can bat like that. It was very special to watch.”
He added that Virender Sehwag was very pleased with Dhoni’s knock as well. “Viru always loves people who hit sixes.”
Calm and relaxed
According to Kohli, the Indian skipper, batting on 97, appeared totally calm and relaxed at tea-time. “He didn’t want to talk about cricket. He told us not to ask questions about the pitch or the bowling.
“For someone, who bats, keeps, and captains in all the three formats, he’s incredibly fit. Hats off to him for that.”
Elaborating on Dhoni’s methods, the 24-year-old pointed out to his ability to adapt himself to different situations. “I have watched him bat in the ODIs… the 183 he scored against Sri Lanka. But analysing the situation and batting with the tailenders is very difficult in Test cricket. He can hit or defend depending on the requirement.”
Was there a case for Dhoni to continue batting at No.6? “I can’t speak about that unless he bats there for long. He hasn’t got ample opportunities to go out and score runs at No.7. At No. 6, he gets time to settle down.”
Kohli admitted to satisfaction at having contributed. “A few people watching me felt it was weird that I didn’t perform well against England. I took some time off the game and came back fresh. I was hungry for runs before the series and it helped.”
Rubbing it in
On Australia not fielding an extra spinner, the classy batsman rubbed it in. “All of us were a bit surprised at their selection. We thought Xavier (Doherty) would play as the second spinner. One more slower bowler could have made the difference.”
Later, Matthew Wade put on a brave face, expressing confidence that Australia could save the game. “The Indian batsmen showed us how to play today. We have to get their last two batters out quickly tomorrow. And, then, hopefully, we can apply ourselves.”
He said the wicket was deteriorating and favoured both spin and seam. “It was a difficult day for us. MS played a brilliant innings but we back our players to come good.”