‘Tonight was an MS classic’: Virat Kohli hails MS Dhoni, Bhuvneshwar Kumar after series-levelling win
MS Dhoni finished 55* off 54 balls as India won by six wickets. © AFP

Virat Kohli was the named Man of the Match for his exceptional 104 from 112 balls to set up India’s successful chase of 299 at Adelaide Oval on Tuesday, but he was quick to deflect praise to two of his team-mates who he felt had played a massive role in the series-levelling win.

Speaking after the six-wicket victory, Kohli singled out Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s death-overs spell of 3/15 as pivotal to India chasing 299 instead of 30 runs more, and later acknowledged MS Dhoni’s unflappable character for finishing what he had started.

Indeed, in the end result Australia’s collapse of four wickets for three runs, triggered by Bhuvneshwar  in a terrific display of skill, proved definitive. Bhuvneshwar, after a first spell of 5-0-16-1, removed Shaun Marsh (131) and Glenn Maxwell (48) in his ninth over – the 48th of the Australian innings – and then claimed a third in the final over. (ALSO READ: Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni cancel out Shaun Marsh hundred as India level series)

“We wanted to try and restrict them in the end. To get them (Maxwell and Marsh) in two balls was outstanding for us, those breakthroughs were crucial,” said Kohli. “That meant we were not chasing 330. Bhuvi was outstanding with the ball, he came back and brought us in the game towards the end. Backing five bowlers and getting job done is always a pleasing thing for a captain.”

Kohli shored up India’s chase after the loss of three wickets, and was led stands with Ambati Rayudu and Dhoni. When Dhoni walked in, India’s asking rate was 7.25 per over and Kohli was batting on 53 off 69 balls. After Dhoni faced five dots from Maxwell, Kohli switched gears to crack Jason Behrendroff past point for four and then lofted him over long-on for six. He then targeted Nathan Lyon as he moved into the eighties, and duly reached his 39th ODI hundred before falling for 104. (FULL SCORECARD: INDIA vs AUSTRALIA, 2nd ODI)

As the asking rate escalated, Dhoni shrugged off a sedate period by heaving Lyon for six and then, with Dinesh Karthik injecting some much-needed urgency, the former India captain levelled the scores with a second six that also raised his fifty. Dhoni finished 55 off 54 balls, which Kohli felt was tribute to his stamina and character.

“You saw MS in the end, he was tired as well. There is no doubt that he shouldn’t be a part of this team. Tonight was an MS classic,” he said. “Only he knows what’s going through his mind. He calculates the game so well. He backs himself to hit those big hits. Hats off to him and Dinesh as well. He came in and showed the right kind of intent. MS was as composed as ever. We try and help each other (MS and himself). Tonight was special for us.”

The final ODI is in Melbourne on Friday.