Dhoni paved way for Pant in T20Is: Kohli

New Delhi: Indian captain Virat Kohli has backed former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, after the wicket-keeper’s omission from the T20I squad against Windies and Australia. Kohli stressed that he (Dhoni) has been dropped to make a slot for Delhi swashbuckling batsman Rishabh Pant.

Dhoni, who is going through a lean patch in his career, was dropped from the squad by MSK Prasad-led selection panel for the T20Is against West Indies and Australia. Pant was picked up in his stead and Dinesh Karthik has been included as a back-up.

Kohli while speaking at the post-match conference of the final ODI against Windies stressed that Dhoni is still an integral part of the ODI team. “He’s still a very integral part of this team and he just feels that in the T20 format, someone like Rishabh can get more chances,” ICC.com quoted Kohli saying.

Kohli while supporting Dhoni, stated, “He anyway plays the ODIs for us regularly, so, from that point of view, he’s only trying to help the youngsters; nothing that anything that other people are thinking and I as captain can certainly assure you of that.”

India secured a comprehensive 3-1 victory over West Indies following an eight-wicket win in the fifth ODI. The development of Ambati Rayudu at No 4 and Left-arm Seamer Khaleel Ahmed was the most pleasing aspect of the series, the skipper feels. Lauding the Indian fast bowling in repertoire, he stated, “Those two things is something that we were looking for a while; someone to back-up Bhuvi and Bumrah – someone to pick up wickets and bowl in good areas. Having a left-arm seamer gives you variation in the attack. Khaleel was really good and Rayudu of course grabbing his opportunities, batting with maturity, batting with composure. It is always good to plug in the areas that you are looking at.”

All teams are weighing their selection in next year’s ICC World Cup. Kohli is looking to upgrade fielding between now and the tournament. “If we can be consistent as a fielding side, it can give us more consistency overall in our skills department as well. In the field, we can still improve a lot. We have spoken to the people in the practice sessions who need to do the extra effort to sharpen their fielding, and they are putting in that extra effort,” he added.