Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and deputy Virat Kohli praised each other for their batting roles in scripting India’s comfortable seven-wicket win over New Zealand in the third One-Day International on Sunday.
Kohli scored an unbeaten 154 off just 134 deliveries to help India take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series. Dhoni (80) played second fiddle to Kohli, who scored his 26th ODI century, in a 151-run stand to chase down New Zealand’s total of 285 all out with 10 balls to spare.
“Batting with Virat helps; the reason being that both of us can hit boundaries and push for those singles and doubles,” Dhoni said after the match.
“Right from the start, he’s somebody who always wanted to improve and win games for India. He’s someone who has learnt a lot. He knows his strength well and executes his plan. If he can bat the way he’s batting, each and every individual will be happy. He’s not only made the fans proud, but also the family. That’s what you look to do.”
Dhoni said he intentionally promoted himself up the batting order with the intention to play freely. He crossed 9000 runs in ODIs during his 80-run knock in India’s seven-wicket win.
“Have batted lower down for a long time. Out of the 280 games I’ve played, I think for 200 of them I have batted down. So the decision was to go up and then express myself. It’s important for me at this stage of my career,” he said.
“That’s what my thinking was – to go out and express myself,” Dhoni added.
Dhoni felt they should have won the second ODI at New Delhi but didn’t approach the match with any hangover of the unexpected defeat.
“We could have done better in the last game. But it’s important to have no hangover. We kept getting wickets in the middle to restrict them,” the 35-year-old said.
Kohli said it was important for him and Dhoni to build a partnership to lay the foundation for the victory.
“It was great to have MS at four. We could build a partnership and we scored 150 and then Manish Pandey also held his own and gave me the confidence,” he said.
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson also pointed to the Kohli-Dhoni partnership as the turning point of the match.
“It’s not always an easy chase, but MS and Virat played superbly. If you took early wickets, it makes it look like a good total. We did that but then those two came out, put on 150 and took the game away,” he said.
“Boys tried hard but it wasn’t to be. It’s part of the game, you want to catch them all but it doesn’t always happen.”