India skipper Virat Kohli has extended his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni unflinching support amid a gradually growing chorus of calls for his retirement from international cricket. Kohli spoke warmly about India’s most successful cricket captain hours before he turned 36, while giving cold shoulder to those calling for his retirement. “He is striking the ball beautifully, you don’t need to tell him anything in terms of how to play a situation, how to build an innings,” Kohli said of Dhoni after India wrapped up the five-match ODI series in the West Indies 3-1. While he carved out brisk 78 in the third one-dayer, Dhoni struggled to get going in the next game, scoring a 54 off 114 balls, an aberration in a career marked by explosive batting. Kohli sought to defend the man he replaced, one by one, in all formats.
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When a scribe told Dhoni was not his usual self at one of of the nets, Kohli responded, “You have to figure out what kind of wickets you are playing on as well. I was trying to hit the spinners a couple of days in practice and I couldn’t because the wickets were not that great to play strokes, the wicket in the centre was much better. “You can’t really judge a guy’s batting form at practice because you don’t know what kind of wickets you are going to get.” Kohli used a bit of the game’s nuances as way of explanation. “If the bounce is not ideal then obviously you have to keep defending the ball and keep rotating strike. I think it was only in the last game he couldn’t rotate the strike and before that he got a brilliant 70 or 80 odd not out.”
The current captain recalled the former captain’s successful outing against Sri Lanka in the Champions Trophy. “In the Champions Trophy against Sri Lanka he played a brilliant knock, in the first game as well he played a brilliant knock here when it wasn’t rained out.” He further said, “I think we get too impatient by just one game, one knock. That can happen to anyone, any batsman can struggle and any batsman can get stuck on the crease, it happens to everyone even if you are in top form it can happen to you so. “I don’t think there are any issues because you see the knocks around, he is striking the ball beautifully and the strike rate is close to 100, if not over 100. So, not bothered by anything at all.”