'Ready to be the punching bag'

Dhoni says he is happy that he can absorb pressure for the team

Coupled with India’s consistent failures in the last one and a half years, the dip in his personal form had compounded MS Dhoni’s problems.

Dhoni has received many brickbats from the media and from former cricketers but the Indian skipper said he didn’t mind being the punching bag for the sake of the team.

“Not really, I accept whatever comes to me,” noted Dhoni when asked if it felt nice to give a punch back after scoring his eight ODI century that won him the man of the match award here on Sunday. “I feel good that I’m the punching bag because there’s less pressure on the team.

“You need to have a few punching bags in the side. Sachin has been there for quite some time now and he takes away all the tension. I don’t think everybody gets chance to be the punching bag, so I am happy that I can take a bit of tension for my team,” he remarked.

While maintaining that the top-order batsmen had to bat under the most difficult of conditions on the day, Dhoni said that one had to be prepared for any eventuality at this level. “When Raina and I were batting, the odd ball was still doing a bit but it wasn’t like when you compare it to the first six or seven overs. There was a lot of movement for the bowlers and as the game progressed, it got slightly better to bat on. It will be really unfair if we say the balls weren’t good. But yes, at international level you get into such scenario. Maybe you can say we didn’t stand up to the challenge but it’s a good learning experience for everyone.”

Dhoni appeared tired towards the end of his innings. “It was all cramps, muscles pulling and everything because it was humid and there was sunlight also. You know, after rain if you get a little bit of sun it is usually harsh. I was quite drained but the good thing is that I can pull anything,” he said.

Kohli injured

Battered as they were by frequent losses, the last thing India needed was an injury to their star batsman Virat Kohli, who had hurt his right knee after falling awkwardly while bowling.

The right-hander immediately limped off the field but a release from the BCCI later confirmed no major worries for the Delhi player though he is not a sure starter for the second ODI in Kolkata on January 3.  “Virat Kohli underwent an MRI scan after the game. All his major ligaments are fine. There is minimal injury fluid in his knee,” the release said. “He will recover after treatment. His condition will be monitored, and a decision on whether he will play the second ODI will be taken over the next couple of days.”

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