Sourav Ganguly, former Indian cricket team captain, believes Virat Kohli has been the key factor behind MS Dhoni’s solid performances in limited-overs this year.
“When players play for so long; MS Dhoni has played over 300 ODIs for India, they know how to get runs. More than 9000 runs for Dhoni in one-day cricket and he’ll get a few more by the time he finishes,” Ganguly was quoted as saying to India Today.
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“It’s the captain’s confidence and Virat should get a lot of credit for it because he’s put a lot of faith in Dhoni and that allowed MS to play the way he wanted.”
With 627 runs in 19 games at an average of 89.57, Dhoni has had a strong 2017 with his bat. What’s more pleasing is the way the former skipper has compiled his innings when the top-order has failed to get going.
A veteran of 302 ODIs, Dhoni marked his comeback to his ‘second home Chennai’ with a calculated 79 that saved India from early jitters and guided them to a 26-run win (D/L Method) in the rain-hit first ODI against Australia on Sunday. This was his 66th half-century in ODIs and 100th in international cricket.
Also, against England earlier this year, India were reduced to 25/3 in an ODI in Cuttack before MS Dhoni’s 134 and Yuvraj Singh’s 14th ton powered them to 381/6. The hosts won the nail-biter by 15 runs and also sealed the three-match series.
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In the away series against the West Indies, it was Dhoni’s unbeaten 79-ball 78 that propelled India to 251/4 on a tough Antigua track. Dhoni struck four fours and two sixes during his essay as the visitors scored 51 runs in the last four overs.
If this wasn’t enough, then his heroics against Sri Lanka proved that he knows how to get the job done by remaining unbeaten in all the four knocks he played in the island nation.
“Players are made and players are broken by the faith you show in them. And I think Virat Kohli is responsible for what we are seeing of MS Dhoni today,” Ganguly added.
Ganguly also heaped praise on Hardik Pandya, who hit a career-best 83 off just 66 deliveries and raised a 118-run partnership with Dhoni. The Baroda all-rounder then claimed two crucial wickets of Steve Smith and Travis Head to undermine Australia as they chased a truncated target.
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“He’s (Pandya) getting better and that’s the best part of it. You can see the confidence, because of the performance with the bat, in his bowling. If you do well in one aspect of the game you automatically get better in the other aspect,” said Ganguly.
“He’s got to think big because the job of an all-rounder is not easy. He’s fit, he works hard and for him the role model should be Jacques Kallis. I’m not comparing him with Kallis but he should start looking at putting in performances over a period of 10 years in all formats because he’s got ability.”