Pune: Virat Kohli’s sharp reaction to the criticism of KL Rahul has prompted a response from former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar who has advised the current skipper to learn from his predecessor MS Dhoni as to how to deal with criticism. Kohli called the criticism of an out-of-form Rahul as ‘nonsense’ on the eve of the series opening first ODI between India and England to be played in Pune.

Rahul was in woeful touch during the recently concluded five-match T20I series which India won 3-2. He recorded two ducks with 14 being his highest score across four innings before being dropped for the decider leading to speculations whether he will be given a chance in the three-match ODI series that gets underway from Tuesday.

“When an individual is going through a tough phase – it’s not like he forgets how to play, it’s just that mental clarity isn’t as good at the time – at that time if you know what things are being said and you’re being told you’re out of form, then you’re bringing in another external factor into your system,” Kohli said when asked of Rahul’s form. “It’s a simple game: you have to watch the ball and react and hit the ball. You have to be in the moment and all this outside talk, to be very honest, is completely nonsense.”

“From the first to the last day of my career, all this outside talk has been nonsense to me. Who says what and why about a player, what’s the motive behind it, what’s the thinking behind it, it’s better that all that remains outside because we’re not going to let it enter our system even in the future. We are going to back our players and try and give them a good mental space,” he added.

Manjrekar said the criticism of Rahul stems from his poor show and that it’s time for Kohli to take some lessons from how Dhoni used to deal with that. “Outside talk which Virat calls nonsense is basically public reacting to a public performance. And it’s always been the same- Praise when you do well, critique when you don’t. Virat must learn to accept this age old reality with calmness & maturity. Just like Dhoni did,” Manjrekar posted on Twitter on Tuesday.

Rahul is part of India’s ODI squad and it remains to be seen whether the team management will give him another chance despite his lean patch. All the three matches of the series will be played at Pune’s Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.