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‘Virat wants to improve in every game’

Dhaka: Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s gesture of allowing Virat Kohli to score the winning runs in Friday’s semi-final victory over South Africa was in appreciation of the great innings he played.

While it showed how satisfied the captain was with Kohli’s work, Dhoni, on Saturday, further explained why the 25-year-old is different than others.

At the media conference ahead of the World T20 final against Sri Lanka, Dhoni was asked of Kohli’s significance to the captain and the team. This is what he had to say: “Every individual is different... Virat is different if you compare him to someone like a Rohit Sharma or a Yuvraj Singh or a Suresh Raina... He has done fantastically well in the last few years.

“I feel he has been someone who has grabbed the opportunity with the best potential he had. More often than not, you will see individuals who, if they get five games, will talk about getting two more and how they would have done something then. But you see Virat, the very first time he gets as an opportunity, he grabs it with both hands. That’s something that has been of great help to him.”

Dhoni also lauded Kohli’s hunger for success and perfection. “Virat wants to improve in every game. We try to give him an opportunity at the top of the order... He scores at a pace which is very difficult to match by some of the other individuals and yet he plays very authentic cricketing shots.”

While he praised Kohli, Dhoni played down the significance of him standing on the threshold of multiple records. If India wins on Sunday, Dhoni will be the only captain to lift the World T20 title twice; he will be the only captain with three world titles to his name and he will also hold three major ICC titles (ODI World Cup, Champions Trophy and World T20) simultaneously.

“For us, what is important is doing well in the final... We are not focusing on the other factors... It is more important to win a World title for your country than thinking about other stats,” he said.

“Records are something we can think about once we have done well in the final. As of now, we shouldn’t really think about what are the things that we can achieve if we win the final. It’s important for us is to play good cricket,” Dhoni added.

On Sri Lanka as opponents, Dhoni said: “They are a very good side. They have got a fantastic team. They have got the spinners that are needed on a track like this. They have also got experienced players and youngsters. Mahela (Jayawardene) is there, Sanga (Kumar Sangakkara) is there, they also have Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews. Overall, they look like a very good side.”

But won’t the fact that India had beaten Sri Lanka in the 2011 ODI World Cup final give the Dhonis a psychological edge? “Well, in this format, I don’t think psychological advantage really matters because there’s little difference between the good sides. I feel it all boils down to how well you have played on that particular day and how the individuals respond to a particular situation.”

A World T20 final is not new to the man who lifted the trophy in the inaugural edition of the meet in 2007. But Dhoni says he doesn’t remember clearly what he had felt before the final seven years back.

“I can’t remember a four-day old matter and you are asking me something which was seven years back? I can only say that both the sides were excited.”

Excitement maybe there, but Dhoni believes in keeping the emotions out. “Emotions are something which I personally feel you should keep at bay. As human beings we are all emotional, but when you are playing at a professional level, it is very important that you have control over your emotions.”