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MS Dhoni denies Indian ODI team's over-dependence on Virat Kohli

Skipper defends his batsmen and wants them to treat Ranchi loss as a 'learning curve'

MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli
Dhoni has a word with Kohli during the fourth ODI in Ranchi (Image Courtesy: BCCI)

Following the 19-run loss in the fourth ODI against New Zealand at the JSCA Stadium in Ranchi, Indian skipper MS Dhoni has played down concerns regarding their over-dependence on star batsman Virat Kohli whilst defending the performance of his batting lineup. During the post-match press conference, the 35-year old attributed the hosts’ inability to chase 261 to the inexperience in the team and urged them to learn from their mistakes.

Dhoni felt, “It will be a good learning curve for them almost similar to what happened in Delhi (2nd ODI). Give them a bit more time, they will do fine. It could have been slightly different if we had wickets in hand. Unless they get an opportunity like this, it will be difficult. That’s how you get experience – when you’re in the middle facing such tough situations. When you go through the motion, you actually learn a lot.”

Upon losing the toss, India restricted New Zealand to a reachable total and looked set to seal the contest when Kohli was continuing from where he left off in the previous ODI at Mohali. However, once the 27-year old perished to a long hop from Ish Sodhi, the wheels came off rather rapidly with the other batsmen unable to step up to the occasion which allowed the Kiwis to level the series 2-2 with one more game to play.

When asked about the recent trend of India’s heavy reliance on Kohli to triumph in the limited-overs formats, Dhoni dismissed the suggestion by claiming, “It’s not like that. If you see the last few months, we have not played much ODIs. In between we had Zimbabwe (series), it’s very difficult. The statistics don’t exactly reflect the exact scenario. Also I’ve batted at different position in that period. Our top-order was batting brilliantly so everything is very different.”

However, prevailing statistics have painted a different picture with Kohli’s stamp all over India’s high points in ODIs as well as T20Is during the last few years. In both the ODIs that they managed to win, the Delhi batsman remained unbeaten with scores of 85 and 154 to guide them past the finishing line. With Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul injured, his responsibility has increased manifold. Opener Rohit Sharma’s indifferent form while Dhoni’s waning reflexes have only made matters worse for the Indians.

Though they received opportunities to show their worth, the likes of Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey have not been able to deliver the goods. The presence of all rounders such as Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel (despite his fighting knock) was not enough to tilt the scales in India’s favor in both the tense chases.

But, Dhoni believed, “We just have to give them more time. Batting down the order is one of the toughest things to do especially on wickets like these. There will be pressure to rotate, to get a partnership. It’s not easy, they need time. You don’t always get a player who is complete and bats at Nos 5, 6 or 7.”

With the fifth ODI at Vizag being a decider in terms of the 5-match series, time is running out rapidly for both Dhoni and his troops.

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