Virat Kohli defended MS Dhoni’s labouring 72-ball 50 during the first semifinal against New Zealand insisting that with Ravindra Jadeja going hammer and tongs, holding one end up was equally important with less recognised batsmen to follow.
“Look, it’s always, you know, a safer option to look at it from outside and say, ‘Maybe this could have happened’ but I think today he (Dhoni) was batting with Jadeja and there was only Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) to follow after so he had to hold one end together in my opinion and because Jadeja was playing so well you needed a solid partnership and to get a 100 partnership from that situation," said Kohli.
“I think it had to be the right balance of one guy holding an end and Jadeja playing the way he did, his knock was outstanding."
After being reduced to 24/4 and later 92/6, India seemingly looked certain to fold for a much lesser score but Jadeja and Dhoni gave them a fresh lease of life stitching a stupendous 116-run stand and take the side to the doorstep of a win.
Jadeja was clearly the aggressor as he slammed a 59-ball 77 but while Dhoni decided to play the sheet anchor role even when the required rate reached was past the 10-run mark. Kohli said that Dhoni’s innings might look a bit slow in hindsight but was very important at the stage.
“As I said, when you don’t win in hindsight, a lot of things can reflect in different manners but you have to understand how the game panned out and until what stage did the game go. And you would obviously expect New Zealand to fight back at some stage because the target was steep after losing five or six wickets, but the way they batted together, I think it was the perfect tempo for that situation, according to me," Kohli said on Dhoni’s knock.
“He’s been given that role after the first few games of being in a situation where he can, if the situation’s bad, he can control one end like he did today or if there is a scenario where there are six or seven overs left he can go and strike."
Kohli also declined to comment on the Jadeja-Sanjay Manjrekar issue which has been hogging the headlines over the past one week but said this was the all-rounder’s best knock.
“I don’t think any of us had to say anything to Jadeja after what happened in the last one week. He just wanted to go in and play. The talent has always been there. This is probably his best knock," said Kohli.
While it would have been extremely excruciating to exit the World Cup despite comfortably being the best team in the group, Virat Kohli insisted that he was proud of how his team played and does not have any regrets.
“We know where we stood as a team, today we were not good enough and that’s the nature of the tournament. We are not shying away from accepting that we didn’t stand up to the challenge and we were not good enough under pressure and we have to accept that and accept the failure as it shows on the scoreboard," said Kohli.
“But having said that, I mean, we have qualified to the semis and we have played some really good cricket, so we should be also proud of the way we have played and look at the positives also because there were a lot throughout this tournament, especially Rohit’s performance, Jasprit with the ball and Jadeja given the opportunity, so there are many things that we can take back as positives. But yeah not having played that bad cricket and then just, as I said, 40, 45 minutes of bad cricket puts you out."