BULAWAYO: Virat Kohli, who led India to an emphatic 5-0 series whitewash over Zimbabwe, on Saturday credited his success as captain to Mahendra Singh Dhoni and said he is learning the tricks of the trade “from the big man himself”.
Under Kohli’s leadership, India created history by recording their first-ever five-match ODI series whitewash on foreign soil after they thrashed Zimbabwe by seven wickets in the fifth and final cricket one-dayer.
Asked how difficult was to captain the side, Kohli, who has led India in the series in Dhoni’s absence, said, “It is a team of very talented players, it is not that difficult as captain, it is not difficult to motivate them.
“(It has) gone well so far, but I can only learn from the big man (Dhoni) himself. I have learned a few tactics from him and used them on the field,” he said.
“I have not changed my attitude as far as batting goes, and tried to take responsibility in the middle order.
“It has been a beautiful thing to be part of this team and now to lead it. This is an eager bunch of 15 who have gone out there and performed,” the talented right-hander added.
Riding on leg-spinner Amit Mishra’s (6/48) career-best six wicket haul, India first bowled out Zimbabwe for a paltry 163 in 39.5 overs and then chased down the small target comfortably with 16 overs to spare at Queens Sports Club.
“To be honest, the first two games were pretty well fought out by Zimbabwe, but we stepped up in the next three. I am pretty happy with the way the guys have played in the series,” Kohli said about the series which India pocketed with consummate ease.
After India took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series, the team management was expected to give all the bench players a chance.
Quite a few of them like Mohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara got the call in the last two ODIs except for Jammu and Kashmir all-rounder Parvez Rasool, who now has to wait for some more time to make his international debut.
Asked about who takes the call on team selection and changes in batting orders, Kohli said, “Firstly, it is all about making sure you win the series and then you can experiment.
“(Coach) Duncan (Fletcher) told me what to do with batting orders. Most of these guys are going to South Africa so it is he who takes the decision who should play who to be rested,” he said.
Man-of-the-match Mishra, who equalled the world record for most wickets in a bilateral ODI series after grabbing a career-best six-wicket haul on Saturday, said the achievement was a reward of his hard work.
“It feels good because I have done lots of hard work and it has paid off now. This wicket is a little slow, good for batsmen, but they did not read my googly,” said the leg-spinner, who took his series tally to 18, equalling the record held by compatriot Javagal Srinath.
Zimbabwe skipper Brendan Taylor admitted that his side has been completely outplayed in the series.
“We have been outplayed by a very good team. There isn’t not too many positives (from the series). We have been well below our best, it is tough to swallow. But hopefully we can sit down with them, pick their brains, and hope to get better,” he said.
He said Zimbabwe batsmen have to quickly get their mental acts together before hosting Pakistan.
“Pakistan are going to be tough, we can only play better cricket. Technically don’t think a lot of us could have done any better in the nets, mentally is the biggest issue, and getting partnerships,” he said.
“Grant Flower has put in so much work, but I am disappointed with the batters. The bowlers have held their heads high. We hope to come out with a good attitude and determination against Pakistan,” Taylor added.