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By R Eswar
Chennai: Feb 24, 2013
Only a few players like Mahendra Singh Dhoni can score a double hundred in a Test match with an amazing strike-rate (nearly 85 percent), feels his younger teammate Virat Kohli.
“His (Dhoni) strike-rate was 87 per cent (84.55) which is quite brilliant. Only a few players are there in the world who can do that,” Kohli, who scored his fourth Test century on the day was lavish in praising his captain.
“It was brilliant batting especially coming in at the fall of Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket. The way he batted was usual for him and when he is in flow he can hit the ball a mile,” the rising star of Indian batting said.
Asked about whether this was the best innings played by Dhoni, he said, “I have seen him bat like this in the ODIs. I think his knock of 183 against Sri Lanka but ODIs are different.”
“But when you analyse the situation of playing with a tail-ender and take strike when you wanted and hit the ball when it is needed, it is totally a great display of batting in temperament wise, hitting the ball cleanly and assessing the situation as well by Dhoni today. Especially, in Test matches it is not easy to play with the lower order and making 200 plus score with a lower order is commendable thing.”
Kohli also seemed happy about his own performance and said, “I was really happy to get a big score. I had a very good consistent run and then few misses in the one day series. I was not feeling bad about it. But, people watching felt that they heard that. Suddenly, I had a bad patch but I took some time off and took some rest and went away from the game. That really helped me to be fresh.”
“I became hungry for runs before this series. Those feelings are important to a cricketer. I am pleased with how I batted in this Test so far. Just hoping that we will have a great session tomorrow and take strong position in this game.”
This was Kohli’s second century against the Aussies but he rates his maiden ton in Adelaide as a better effort.
“Firstly, I think, still the Adelaide hundred is special to me. That was a tougher situation we were in. I needed to get out of that shell and make people believe that Test cricket was really important to me.
“I was really pleased with the way I played that whole series. This is also obviously special because I have got only four test hundreds. All four are very special to me.”
But the talented right-hander seemed surprised that Australia came into the match with a single specialist spinner.
“All of us are bit surprised by their decision. They had Xavier (Doherty) in the team as well. So we really thought that he is going to play this game. We are really surprised to see three seamers in the XI. We decided to take advantage of that because in this condition, you can only have those quicks bowl good spell for three or four overs and not more than that. We had to remind ourselves to go and capitalize on that situation.”
But he was unhappy that despite being set, he couldn’t go onto hit a big hundred.
“Definitely, even I was very disappointed on getting out at that point of time. Usually, when you get a hundred you want to make it big but the sort of block I am facing, I do not know when I get hundred, I get out. I really want to get over that. I really want to get a big hundred in Test cricket.”
“As a batsman you would love to get big runs when you score a century under tough situations you do not want to throw away. Today, I decided to go for the shot that is why I did not hold myself back. I got too close to the ball and did not get required elevation. One can only learn from mistakes and perhaps next time, it will be different and I will try and erase all these errors,” he commented on his dismissal.
Kohli insisted that there wasn’t any specific plan to counter the Australian quicks.
“There was no plan. He did not want to talk about the game. He just talked about something else to me. He was pretty calm and relaxed and he was doing well and did not want to talk about the game. He is one of the few guys who plays well in every format and hats off to him to be so fit in all three formats of the game.”
Asked about the condition of the pitch, Kohli stated, “Yesterday was the easiest day to bat on this wicket. After the fresh wicket on Friday, it evened out a bit on the second day. When we came this morning to bat on, two balls I remember went under the bat and one went other way. I was a bit surprised as how the wicket was just coming off.
“If they had more slow bowlers in the team, you could have seen the difference of that wicket. I think the spinners could get lot of turn and bounce tomorrow with the hard ball and the wicket getting roughed up by the day is going to important in this Test match. It is just matter of bowling in the right areas and have purchase of the wicket.”
Kohli declined comment on whether Dhoni should permanently bat at No 6.
“I cannot say anything unless he stays in that slot for a long time. He has been batting at No 7 for a while and did not get ample opportunities to get big runs. People doubted his Test batting. He was not getting ample opportunities and when the team is five down, if he has to go, negotiate the situation and get a hundred, it will be quite difficult.
“Coming at number six, there are more opportunities to get settled and he is one of the more experienced guy to play with the lower order. He knows how to play with lower order.
That is huge difference that he could make coming at number six in Test matches. It might just be the click work for us in batting order.”
Dhoni’s batting today had a dash of Virender Sehwag in it and according to Kohli, the senior opener was delighted to watch the skipper in full flow.
“He (Sehwag) always love people who hit sixes. He was enjoying it. Of all the double hundreds he got, Viru had played the same way. So, he was happy watching Dhoni bat.”
Kohli said the idea was to play the first session off today.
“The first spell in the morning was pretty important for us to see them off. They were bowling well and we had to play it out. I decided to play square of the wicket because it was closer to the body. The wicket was pretty slow and they had fielders in the mid-wicket and covers. I did not try to hit the ball in those areas.
“When I work it square, it does not go in the air. So I tried not to drive too much on this wicket. It is just being smart on that wicket and playing closer to the body to avoid risks.”
Kohli feels that the trickiest part about batting on this wicket is at the time one starts off.
“The most critical part is when you always start off your innings. It was really tricky when you come in the morning session to see the session off. Once you start in the morning you can score 50 and then capitalize on that. Once you score 50 and feel settled and then come back in the morning, you start a fresh innings batting on zero. I think it was tough situation.”
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