Kohli thanks Dhoni for backing him as a youngster

Kolkata: Showering praise on former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India skipper Virat Kohli said on Thursday that he was lucky to have him in the team and it was unfortunate to see people criticising the “captain cool”.

Kohli also added that he would never forget how Dhoni backed him in his early days as a youngster and gave him the opportunity to bat at the crucial No. 3 position. Starting off at No. 4, Kohli moved to his current position under Dhoni.

“For me, loyalty matters the most. When I walked into the team, he (Dhoni) had the option of trying someone else after a few games. Although I grabbed my chances, for me to get that kind of backing, it was really crucial. Also, he gave me an opportunity to bat at No. 3 because not many youngsters get to play at No. 3,” he told a leading media house.

Kohli also said there was a lot of trust and respect between the two and that Dhoni constantly guided him and the other players from behind the wicket.

“He (Dhoni) is one person who knows the game inside out, who understands the game from ball 1 to ball 300 on the field. I won’t say it is a luxury to have him, but I am fortunate to have a mind like that behind the stumps.

“At the end of the day, I want to be involved in strategising with Mahi bhai and Rohit (Sharma). In the death overs, I know that I have to be in the outfield to try and make something work for the team because that’s my nature. I want to do something for the team rather than just be there,” Kohli said.

“After 30-35 overs, he knows that I will be in the outfield and it’s on auto mode. It’s just about the field placements and bowling changes, and I say you know the angles, you know the pace of the pitch… That’s why there is so much trust and respect between the two of us,” the run-machine explained.

Dhoni had managed just 252 runs from 18 ODIs at an average of 25.20 in 2018. He was criticised from all quarters and some even demanded that he retired from the game. Kohli said it was uncalled for.

“It’s unfortunate to see so many people going after him,” Kohli said.