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‘Dhoni excited to be back in Indian dressing room’: Virat Kohli

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India captain Virat Kohli is used to being in the spotlight whenever the Men in Blue take the field. But the attention will be more than ever before at the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup, since it will be his last T20I tournament as Indian skipper. 

For Kohli, the World Cup will be about finding his batting mojo and helping India win an ICC trophy after 2011. Speaking at the captains’ interaction on the eve of the competition, Kohli admitted that watching England and West Indies in the finals of the 2016 edition at home was frustrating. India had lost to the eventual winners West Indies in the semifinal. He said that this time around, India have a strong team, with each player aware of his role, to win the title. He was extremely bullish about the impact M.S. Dhoni would have on the Indian team, especially on the younger players, given his success and knowhow, especially in the shortest format of the game. Excerpts from the interaction:

Q/ As hosts in 2016, how was it like watching England and West Indies battling it out in the final at home?

A/ It was quite frustrating to go out the way we did, but to a deserving side, I thought. West Indies had the best team in the tournament and they thoroughly deserved to win the tournament. In Sri Lanka, in 2014, we lost in the finals. It shows that as far as T20 cricket is concerned, we have a strong side. Now, more so. A lot of youngsters have come in and they know their roles wonderfully well. They can win a game from any stage. We have beaten teams in recent past in close contests. So, we are confident heading into this World Cup. If we reach the knockout stages, we can go one step further this time.

Q/ Dhoni is back in the dressing room as mentor. Your thoughts?

A/ He is quite excited, getting back into this environment. He has always been a mentor for us when we were starting our careers. And now, he has the opportunity to do so again with the younger guys who are playing major tournaments in early stages in their careers. Just the experience he has gained over the years—practical inputs and intricate details as to where the game is going and how we can improve—always makes a difference when he is in a leadership role in any team. We are absolutely delighted to have him back in this environment and his presence will boost the morale of the team and give us more confidence.

Q/ Bhuvneshwar Kumar and other seam bowlers struggled to get movement in UAE during IPL. Is that a concern going into the T20 World Cup?

A/ No, not at all. His economy rate still is top notch; something that comes to the fore with his experience. He has the understanding of the right areas to bowl according to dimensions of the field, and what balls to bowl. He bowls length so well and so consistently, which is not easy in T20 cricket with the new ball. His experience and accuracy have been priceless for the team and he is back to being at full fitness which augurs well for our team. I am sure, with the new ball, he will definitely get some assistance throughout the tournament. Bhuvi knows how to make maximum use of whatever little is on offer.

Q/ Is the return of Ravichandran Ashwin an example of someone trying to get better and forcing his way back into the set-up?   

A/ Definitely. Ashwin is bowling with a lot of courage in white-ball cricket. In the IPL, he bowled difficult overs, against top players and wasn’t shy to put the ball in the right areas. The way he was bowling—variations and control over pace—it is due to his experience. He is at his confident best. He can go and change the game. Hence, Ashwin has been rewarded for reviving his white-ball skills. He fell off a bit because wrist spinners were in demand, but now, the finger spinners are back. Ashwin and Jadeja are performing beautifully, and can also be consistent.


Courtesy – www.theweek.in

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