Former Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni might be in the firing line for his below power performances with the bat, he continues to do a sterling job as a wicket-keeper though, but his leadership skills are still proving to be a huge asset for the side. The Indian cricket team had to defend a low score of 67 runs in 8 overs to avoid a series defeat at the hands of New Zealand on Tuesday in a rain-curtailed match at Thiruvananthapuram. The loss would not have created history. The fast bowlers did a good job initially but a few blows in the middle overs were enough to take the visitors very close to the target. With just two overs remaining, Kohli had to make some key calls that were bound to determine the outcome of the tense contest.
While most fans were expecting India’s main man Jasprit Bumrah to bowl the last over, it was MS Dhoni who advised Kohli to introduce Bumrah in the 7th over. And lo and behold! The Mumbai Indians fast bowler produced an economical over and India won the match. This created history! India have never beaten NZ in a T20 series! And all courtesy the good ol’ Mahi! Bumrah finished with figures of two for nine in two overs. “We thought if we can take the run-rate up, it’s not going to be so easy. Rohit and MS (Dhoni) came up with Bumrah bowling the second last, and Hardik Pandya bowled the last over well. When Hardik got hurt, I was thinking god forbid if I had to bowl the last four balls,” said Kohli seeing the funny side of Pandya’s spirited fielding effort in the final over.
Kohli also said having to bat on bowler-friendly conditions made his side “nervous” after losing the toss. “I think we were really happy to get a game. This crowd deserved to watch some action. Ever since the ODIs started, we expected them to give a good fight. We were nervous to start here, with the damp pitch,” said Kohli after India won the eight overs a side contest.
The 29-year-old batsman also defended Dhoni’s poor run of form. “I don’t understand why people are pointing him out. If I fail as a batsman three times, no one is going to point fingers at me because I am not over 35,” Kohli’s sarcastic jibe at the post-match media conference was not lost on anyone. “The guy is fit, he is passing all the tests. He is contributing to the team in every tactical way on the field. With the bat, he did really well against Sri Lanka (away series) and Australia,” the skipper reminded everyone.
“We have won a few on the trot and it makes us very proud. This stadium is beautiful, the outfield wonderful and the crowd made it special. I am surprised there were no games here earlier,” he added.