Middle-order batsman says his captain is one of a few among top batsmen in the world after himself scoring a hundred on day 2 of the Chennai Test.
India v Australia: Virat Kohli lauds MS Dhoni for double century
Kohli, who added 57 runs to the 50 he had made on the second day of the first Test before being dismissed by the off-spinner Nathan Lyon, then sat down to watch a batting masterclass from Dhoni who returned to the pavilion a few hours later unbeaten on a record-breaking 206.
It was the first double-century by a wicketkeeper-captain in Tests. It was also the highest individual Test score by an India wicketkeeper-batsman as well as the highest individual Test score by an India captain against Australia. More impressive was the fact it took Dhoni just 243 deliveries to do so.
Perhaps most crucial to him and his team, India had reached 515 for eight – a 135-run lead – by the end of day's play.
Kohli, though, could not help but spend some time praising India's top scorer for an innings of character, given that India were in trouble at 196 for four with Sachin Tendulkar dismissed, clean-bowled by Lyon for 81.
"His [Dhoni's] strike rate was 87 per cent [84.55 to be precise] which is quite brilliant. Only a few players are there in the world who can do that," Kohli said at the news conference. "It was brilliant batting especially coming in at the fall of Sachin Tendulkar's wicket. The way he batted was usual for him and when he is in flow he can hit the ball a mile."
When asked if this was the best innings Dhoni had played, Kohli said: "I have seen him bat like this in the ODIs ... his knock of 183 against Sri Lanka [in Jaipur in 2005]. But ODIs are different.
"When you analyse the situation of playing with a tail-ender and take strike when you wanted and hit the ball when it is needed, it is totally a great display of batting in temperament wise, hitting the ball cleanly and assessing the situation as well by Dhoni today.
"Especially in Test matches it is not easy to play with the lower order and making 200-plus score with a lower order is commendable thing."
Indeed, following the dismissal of Kohli for 107, India looked like they would concede a first-innings lead to Australia.
Dhoni, though, went on to strike partnerships worth 41 runs with Ravindra Jadeja (16), seven with Ravichandran Ashwin (three), 34 with Harbhajan Singh (11) and most significantly 109 with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (16 not out).
Bhuvneshwar, the medium pace bowler playing in his first Test, consumed 56 deliveries, giving Dhoni the freedom to express himself at the other end and collect 22 fours and five sixes along the way.
As for Kohli's own contribution to the scoreboard, the middle-order batsman was pleased to hit what was his fourth Test century.
The Delhi player was disappointed in the manner in which he got out – he failed to get the elevation required to beat Mitchell Starc at mid-on with the fast bowler taking a simple catch off Lyon to leave India 324 for five – but he was satisfied nonetheless.
"I became hungry for runs before this series. Those feelings are important to a cricketer. I am pleased with how I batted in this Test so far," he said. "Just hoping that we will have a great session tomorrow and take a strong position in this game."
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