Mohali: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Wednesday praised Rohit Sharma for his contribution in India's comprehensive five-wicket victory over England in the fourth ODI here and described him as the "most god-gifted talent around".
"I am glad he (Rohit) scored runs because he is one of the most god-gifted talent that is around. Of course an innings like this was very much needed for him. It will give him a lot of confidence and also time at the top level. Personally I am very happy for him," Dhoni said at the post-match press conference.
"We all felt he is someone who can be a really good opener in the sense he cuts and pulls really well. Also with two openers you want one of them to be slightly aggressive than the other I think he accepted the challenge in the sense he also felt he got into the side because Manoj was unfit. So it was an opportunity for him. The good thing was he took it as a challenge," he added.
Asked what would have happened to Rohit, who scored 83 today, if he had failed to deliver, Dhoni said, "That's a difficult one. It's very important to think and go in one direction, not only as coach and captain but also with the selectors because at the end of the day, mutually we decide who is the best available talent and you have to give those guys a bit of a rope.
"I don't know what would have happened if he had not scored runs or in any other scenario. The best that we could have done was give him another chance in Dharamsala and then see because we are not playing too many ODIs after that. We all felt he is very talented, he got an opportunity in last series in Sri Lanka where he got a few good deliveries," Dhoni said.
He said it was difficult for Rohit to get a place in the middle order as others were doing well and the opener's slot was the only vacant one for him because of injury to some players.
"If you look at it positively, it was a challenge that was thrown on to him and he accepted it because he knew it would be difficult for him right now to get a place at 5, 6. 7. Virat is doing well really well at 3 and then you have Yuvraj and other batsmen who are doing quite well. So the only opportunity was to open," said Dhoni.
"I am glad he accepted it because he wanted to spend some time at the top level, he was desperate to perform for India and I think it is a very good sign for him. I was really happy for him, he can really contribute. A bit of work on his off-spin bowling, he can be a good contributor to the side."
Dhoni left options open when asked if he would take rest in the next game at Dharamsala on January 27 as he was hit on his thumb during practice prior to the match.
"We will see. Since the press conference was so close I did not have a chance to speak to the selectors. It is definitely an opportunity but we will see. I can't really confirm anything now," he said.
Asked about the condition of his thumb, he said, "It's alright as of now. I didn't do the X-ray because I had to play this game. It went off well, I didn't get many hits there so overall quite happy that it was not painful as it could have been. Overall happy with the performance of the team, so that really helps."
Talking about the other main contributor, Suresh Raina, who hit 89 not out today, Dhoni said he could be promoted up the order.
"This kind of innings has a lot of value because we have been grooming him like this. At 5, 6, 7, depending on scenarios, you hope that players at those positions have the talent to finish off games. It's not necessary that only one individual must finish the match each time. It's important that those who bat at 5, 6 and 7 make it a habit to win the game," said the captain.
"He has learned it but at the same time, he has to curb his instincts. He is a naturally aggressive player, he loves to play his strokes but he has to curb it for the interest of the team. It will be good if we can give him some chances to bat slightly up the order. At 5, 6 and 7, you don't get much opportunity. The max you get generally is 60 or 70 and if you don't get runs, it's 10 or 15. We will see but definitely we have to give him a bit of chance up the order," Dhoni said.
Indian bowlers conceded 100 runs in the last 10 overs in England innings but Dhoni defended them, saying that they were inexperienced and would do better with more exposure.
"It was inside the target because we thought 260 would be a good total to chase because the wicket was quite good. Ball was not stopping and there wasn't much turn for the spinners. Overall we are happy with the performances of the bowlers because you must realise that they are new bowlers they haven't played a lot of international cricket," he said.
"Shami has played 3-4 matches in seaming conditions where he hasn't had to bowl in the slog. I think they will learn from these games. If there are five fielders inside, it has been seen quite often that in the last 10 overs, 100 runs can be scored.
"We have tried a few things different, had a few overs of Jadeja and Ashwin because we thought the fast bowlers might not be able to deliver towards the end because they have not played a lot of ODI cricket, especially in the death overs but overall in the last 10 overs, even if we conceded 100, it was still well within our reach," he added.
On Cheteshwar Pujara's continued omission, Dhoni said, "At a time, only 11 can play. I have seen on Twitter that drop Ishant and play Pujara. It can't really happen because you have to see the combination. We have to see where we can fit him. Rather than a panic decision, it must be a well throughout one. Of course he is a good batsman, we all know that. We will have to see where we can fit him in, how well we can adjust him."
Dhoni was also happy with Ishant Sharma's performance in the series so far.
"This particular series, he has bowled really well. In the first 6-7 overs, he has bowled really well, he has troubled the batsmen. Last few overs he has gone for runs but we all don't know as of now as to what is a good number in the last few overs, slogs with fielders inside. Overall we will spend some time to see where he stands.
"It's not only him. The opposition bowlers are also going for runs in the last 10 overs. I am happy with his performance, he is a good fielder and he is bowling those five-six overs really well for us. Also the fact that he is bowling one-change with the semi new-ball. So overall happy with his contribution," said the captain.
On the Steven Finn dead ball controversy, Dhoni said, "Yes, we were told about it but the easiest thing to do is to ask him not to touch the stumps because that will remove all the controversies. There is plenty of space to bowl from so no need to interfere with the stumps and if you do your side may lose because of that one particular delivery like what happened in this game."
Raina got a reprieve when he was caught by Cook in the slips, but umpire Steve Davis declared a dead ball as pacer Finn had knocked down the bails at his delivery stride.