‘Told Shikhar I’ll take the bowling on’: Virat Kohli heaps praise on Dhawan ‘for batting in toughest phase’ in 1st ODI

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Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan announced his return to form with a magnificent 98-run knock in the first ODI against England on Tuesday in Pune. The left-hand batsman may have fallen short by 2 runs to notch his 18th ODI hundred, but his crucial partnership with captain Virat Kohli for the second wicket laid the foundation of India’s 317-run total.

Dhawan and Kohli stitched a 105-run stand after India lost Rohit Sharma following a slow start. Towards the end, KL Rahul and debutant Krunal Pandya teamed up to trouble England bowlers, scoring 112 runs in the last 9 overs.

In reply, England were 135/0 at one stage, but Indian bowlers made a stunning comeback to bundle out England for 251 inside 43 overs.

After the victory, the Indian skipper lavished praise over Dhawan for playing a brave knock that put India in a strong position.

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“Special mention to Shikhar’s innings as well. KL as well, back among the runs. Want to back the people who we know will go out and do a selfless job. For every spot, we have two-three players available. Great signs for Indian cricket. Right now, we are on the right path and have a big pool of players to choose from,” said Kohli.

“Shikhar’s body language was amazing when he wasn’t playing. He was so helpful for us. Today he deserved the result. He batted in the toughest phase today and got 98 which is more valuable than what the scoreboard shows. The ploy was that when we got to 100-partnership, I told Shikhar I’ll take the bowling on,” he added.

Dhawan, who bagged the Man of the Match award for scintillating knock, was benched after the first T20 of the five-match series. He explained how he kept himself positive in that situation.

“I was focusing on my process, fitness, skill-work, gym-work and I always stay in a positive mental space. I always try and look at the positives from every situation. That’s what I was doing. I was confident with my batting. I knew that if I get an opportunity, I’ll take it,” Dhawan said during the post-match presentation.

Tuesday’s win has taken India 1-0 up in the series. Both the teams will square off against each other in the second face-off on Friday at the same venue.

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