Former India captain Sourav Ganguly believes that Virat Kohli has played a massive role in MS Dhoni's return to form in recent games, which has helped the former captain put critics to bed following a string of below-par outings with the bat earlier this year. The 36-year-old continued the trend of producing a good performance during India's 26-run win over Australia along with Hardik Pandya to take a 1-0 lead in the ongoing five-match ODI series.
Following a blazing spell by Nathan Coulter-Nile, India were reduced to 87 for 5 at one stage when Pandya and Dhoni got together. The duo took control of the proceedings to help register a total of 281 and stay in the contest. A rain delay just before the Australian batsmen came out to bat saw the target reduced to 164 runs from 21 overs. After the covers were taken off, Australia struggled to find their feet and ended up on the losing side under the Duckworth-Lewis Method.
Ganguly credited Kohli for keeping faith in the former captain and remarked that the relationship between the two has boosted India's confidence even further. “When players play for so long, MS (Dhoni) has played over 300 ODIs for India, they know how to get runs. More than 9000 runs for Dhoni in one-day cricket and he’ll get a few more by the time he finishes. It’s the captain’s confidence and Virat should get a lot of credit for it because he’s put a lot of faith in Dhoni and that allowed MS to play the way he wanted," before adding: “Players are made and players are broken by the faith you show in them. I think Kohli is responsible for what we are seeing of MS Dhoni today,” Ganguly told India Today.
The Bengal Tiger also heaped praise on Pandya, who smothered spinner Adam Zampa for 22 runs in the 37th over to put the visitors under pressure. “He’s got to think big because the job of an all-rounder is not easy. He’s fit, he works hard and for him, the role model should be Jacques Kallis. I’m not comparing him with the Kallis but he should start looking at putting in performances over a period of 10 years in all formats because he’s got the ability," Ganguly concluded.