Indian captain Virat Kohli hit out at against critics of MS Dhoni after the wicketkeeper-batsman played an uncharacteristic knock in India's unsuccessful chase of 333 in the second of the three-match ODI series at Lord's on Saturday, July 14.
Dhoni had a mixed day as he become the fourth Indian batsman after Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, and Rahul Dravid to reach 10,000 runs in ODI cricket during his insipid knock of 37 of 59.
But the 37-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman was booed by the Lord's crowd for refusing the singles towards the end of the Indian innings even as the asking rate was getting out of his reach.
Quite a few followers of the sport launched into Dhoni for what was perceived as a "deplorable" knock.
India cannot be happy with that chase ... almost as if they decided to have an afternoon middle practice after around 30 overs ... for such a formidable Batting line up that can’t be right ... #ENGvIND #Lords— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) July 14, 2018
This MS Dhoni innings is deplorable. Smacks of Tendulkar-era selfishness — not the kind of thing you expect in a Kohli-led team. #EngvInd #cricket— Rahul Fernandes (@newspaperwallah) July 14, 2018
Not sure I understood any bit of Dhoni's tactics today.#ENGvIND #INDvENG— Rajneesh Gupta (@rgcricket) July 14, 2018
Despite touching a milestone, this was a really disappointing innings by MS Dhoni. Only 2 fours in 59 balls, terrible.#INDvENG— Rupinder Singh (@artbyrupinder) July 14, 2018
"This thing [criticism] comes up whenever he [Dhoni] isn't able to play the way he wants. People just wait to jump on him. When it works, they call him the best finisher and if it doesn't, they jump on him," Kohli said after India's 86-run defeat that let England level the series at 1-1.
He added: "Today was a bad day for all of us, not just him. He is experienced and the idea was to take it deep. You don't want to lose by 150-160 runs."
Notably, India had gotten off to a decent start but wickets fell in quick succession. Kohli and Suresh Raina stitched an 80-run stand on the Lord's track that got slower and slower on a hot day.
The Indian skipper departed for 46 leaving India in a spot of bother.
Dhoni's 'strange' knock at Lord's
Dhoni walked in when the team was reeling at 140 for 4 in 27 overs. He needed time to get going but failed to take off towards the end overs.
Wickets falling at regular intervals at the other end did not help Dhoni's cause, but the seeming lack of intent from one of the best finishers in modern-day cricket surprised and frustrated quite a few cricket fans.
The stumper managed to hit only two boundaries before getting out while trying to clear the ropes in the 47th over of the chase. It was even suggested by the on-air commentators that Dhoni had received a message from the dressing room before he attempted the big shot against the run of play.
Did India miss Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar?
Kohli also shed light on the impact of not having two of India's premier white-ball bowlers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah due to injuries.
The 29-year-old insisted that he and the team management back the bench strength and expect Siddharth Kaul and Umesh Yadav to step up and take responsibility in the absence of the said duo.
India leaked runs aplenty in the last 10 overs as David Willey hit a quickfire half-century after coming in at No. 8. Joe Root found form after a few ordinary outings in the ongoing tour as he hit a 116-ball 113 while providing support to the left-handed all-rounder at the death.
"These are games where you test the character of the guys. Siddarth is new and Umesh is coming back after a while. We expect them to do the job, obviously Bumrah and Bhuvi have done it for long but it's nice to test the character of the guys," the skipper added.
"It's Important for the guys to bounce back and crucial to back the guys ahead. We've played good cricket so far, today was just a bad day."