India captain Virat Kohli has time and again credited MS Dhoni for his success both as a batsman and as a captain. It was Dhoni who backed Kohli when the right-hander had a not so impressive Test series in Australia – apart from just one hundred – at the start of his career in 2011-12. Even after handing over reins of the Indian side to Kohli, Dhoni made sure to chip in with his leadership skills in crunch situations. The Dhoni-Kohli bond is one of the strongest reasons behind India’s success in the last 10 years or so. But the Indian captain talked about an incident when Dhoni wasn’t quite pleased with him and Rohit Sharma during an ODI against Pakistan.
Recalling the Asia Cup match against Pakistan in 2012, Kohli said he and Rohit had collided while chasing a ball during Pakistan’s innings. As a result, the Pakistan batsmen took three runs, which otherwise should have been a single.
“It was very funny and I remember MS wasn’t too happy about it. Pakistan I think had posted 329 and they had some very big partnerships in the beginning. At that time we (he and Rohit) sort of messed up, it was supposed to be a single but we gave away three runs,” recalled Kohli in an interview with teammate Ravichandran Ashwin.
“I remember Irfan (Pathan) running after the ball and throwing it back to MS and MS was like how can these two guys just collide and give away three runs. The bowler was you (Ashwin). I remember Umar Akmal played it like that, I was at deep mid-wicket and Rohit was at deep square-leg. I came in, Rohit was also going for the ball and the side of my head hit Rohit’s shoulder. I don’t think it was that serious, it was just the heat of the moment when we went for the ball and like for five minutes couldn’t figure out what had happened,” said Kohli.
Openers Nasir Jamshed and Mohammad Hafeez had struck centuries to propel Pakistan to 329 for six, batting first. But Virat Kohli’s materclass – 183 off 148 balls – which is still his highest score in ODIs, made sure India reached the target in 47.5 overs and with six wickets in hand.
“I told myself that I am going to start playing him (Ajmal) like a legspinner because his doosra was quite difficult to face and his offspinner was not that lethal. So I said I am going to try and hit him over cover consistently, and it just paid off. As soon as I negated his doosra, the potency of his threat became lesser and lesser,” Kohli told Ashwin during the chat.
“In that game, I scored most of my runs against him through the offside. My only aim was that I am going to make him unsettled with his doosra. He should fear bowling the doosra to me, then I am on top of my game,” he added.
In the match against Pakistan in 2012, Kohli smashed 22 boundaries and 1 six. He was involved in a 133-run stand with Sachin Tendulkar for the second wicket as well.
Coincidentally, it was Tendulkar’s last ODI for India as well.
Further explaining that knock against Pakistan, Kohli went on to say that the bowling lineup of the arch-rival was quite potent at that time.
“Their bowling attack was quite potent. At the time they were a really challenging bowling attack because of the variations. There was Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, Aizaz Cheema and there was Hafeez as well. For the first 20-25 overs, the conditions were clearly in their favour but I remember I was just happy batting next to paaji (Sachin Tendulkar),” Kohli said.
“It turned out to be his last ODI innings and he scored a 50 and we got a 100-run partnership so that was a memorable anecdote for me,” he added.
The Indian skipper went on to label that match as a game-changer for him and as quite ‘memorable’ for the entire side.
“It naturally happened because I was constantly boosting myself up to want those situations to happen. I think that turned out to be a game-changer for me. I fondly remember that chase it was really tough, Rohit played brilliantly and in the end, MS Dhoni and Raina finished with three overs to spare or something, chasing 330 which was quite memorable,” Kohli said.