India captain Virat Kohli on Thursday reiterated that Mahendra Singh Dhoni remains an integral part of the ODI team and the veteran wicket-keeper batsman decided not to play the upcoming T20s only to make way for the much younger Rishabh Pant. “I think the selectors have already addressed this if I’m not wrong. And he’s been spoken to, firstly… So, I don’t see any reason why I should be sitting here and explaining that. I think the selectors have come out and explained exactly what happened,” said Kohli at the post-match press conference after guiding India to another series win at home. Also Read - Mohammad Hafeez Names His Favourite Top 5 Batsmen of All-Time, Includes Virat Kohli And Sachin Tendulkar in List
“I was not part of that conversation so… It is what the selectors explained. I think people are putting too much variables into the situation, which is not the case I can assure you of that. He’s still a very integral part of this team and he just feels that in the T20 format, someone like Rishabh can get more chances.” Also Read - Umar Akmal Needs to Change His Attitude, Show More Commitment to Play For Pakistan, Says Head Coach Misbah-ul-Haq
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Dhoni has been dropped for the upcoming T20 series against the West Indies and Australia and there is a possibility that he never plays for India again in the shortest format.
“He anyway plays the ODIs for us regularly, so… From that point of view, he’s only trying to help the youngsters; nothing that anything that other people are thinking and I as captain can certainly assure you of that,” Kohli said.
On the positives from the West Indies series, which India won 3-1, Kohli said he was happy with the way Ambati Rayudu had played at No.4 and the manner in which young Khaleel Ahmed bowled.
“Those two things is something that we were looking for a while; someone to back-up Bhuvi and Bumrah – someone to pick up wickets and bowl in good areas. Having a left-arm seamer gives you variation in the attack. Khaleel was really good and Rayudu of course grabbing his opportunities, batting with maturity, batting with composure. It is always good to plug in the areas that you are looking at,” he added.
On the areas of concern for the team in the run-up to the World Cup in England next year, the India skipper said it was about putting in consistent efforts on the field.
“If we can be consistent as a fielding side, it can give us more consistency overall in our skills department as well. In the field, we can still improve a lot. We have spoken to the people in the practice sessions who need to do the extra effort to sharpen their fielding, and they are putting in that extra effort.
“That is the only area we feel we can get better at. Obviously, batting and bowling are big variables. Fielding is something that is controllable and you need to get that from all the 11 players in the field.”
About the return of Ravindra Jadeja and if he was a frontrunner in the race for the all-rounder slot, Kohli said the Saurashtra left-hander had done well since coming back in the Asia Cup.
“It depends. When Hardik (Pandya) is fit and fine to play, you have to see what is the combination you have to take in the World Cup. If Hardik is fit, Kedar becomes a spin option as well. Hardik becoming fit also gives you four seaming options, along with Kedar and one more spinner. You might need one more spin option. Jadeja becomes the key there with the team balance.
“In the Test matches as well, I think he batted and bowled very well. I get a sense that he understands his game much better. He has obviously gone back and worked quite a bit, especially in white ball to come back and perform like this. He has been smart about what he wants to do with the field.
“In the field, there has been no question about his ability. With the bat and ball he has matured a lot now and brings balance to any side,” the India captain said.
He said the conditions at the Greenfield stadium here were challenging and it was pleasant to see the wicket offer something for the bowlers.
To a question as to what a good par score would have been in the light of West Indies collapsing for 104 all out in today’s game, he said it was difficult to predict a par score and the plan, if they got to bat first, was to keep wickets intact in the first 10 overs.
Kohli was also surprised that the West Indies chose to bat first. “I was thinking they’re going to bowl first when they won the toss. I was quite surprised they chose to bat. Might be because the way the last game went…thinking if we put up decent runs on the board they might find it difficult to chase it down with… you know, losing confidence in the last game as a batting group
“So I can understand why they chose to bat first but it completely fell in place for us since we wanted to bowl anyway,” Kohli added.
(With PTI Inputs)