Impressed with Mahendra Singh Dhoni's finishing in the second ODI match against Australia at Adelaide on Tuesday, batting great Sachin Tendulkar hailed the veteran Indian wicketkeeper for a different approach to batting.
Dhoni, 37, remained unbeaten in India's successful chase of the 299-run target with 55 runs. His 54-ball innings was pivotal in India's series-levelling win. During the knock, he stitched an innings-high 82-run stand for the fourth wicket with skipper Virat Kohli.
Tendulkar attributed it to a change in his thought process, and said that from now on, the Ranchi-man will be more like an anchor, who would "control the game till the end".
Dhoni then showed his fabled finishing prowess, hitting the first ball of the last over for a six to leave India one run shy of a win. But he entered the match knowing well enough that his position in the team has become untenable, thanks to a series of 'failures'.
In the first ODI at Sydney, Dhoni hit a very patient fifty. It became one of the talking points after India lost the match by 34 runs despite starting as the favourites.
"Yesterday's (Tuesday) contribution was good. In the first match, I felt he was a little rusty, he was not being able to hit the ball where he wanted to and that can happen to anyone. He walked out in the second match thinking differently and from ball one, he looked a different player," Tendulkar said on his app 100MB.
Dhoni of the old was both an anchor as well as a finisher but Tendulkar is happy to see him as someone who will be able to control the game till the end.
"He (Dhoni) is someone who loves to play a few dot balls, understand the wicket, how the bowlers are bowling and likes to take the game till the end. That is exactly what he did. He is someone who is going to control the game from one end," the highest run-getter in international cricket observed.
He also praised Dinesh Karthik for his role as a "finisher" and complementing Dhoni's experience during final overs.
"And yesterday along with Dhoni, I felt that Dinesh Karthik played rather well as he came and finished the game. It was a fantastic contribution from Dinesh also. Dhoni stayed till the end and his experience mattered."
With both Dhoni and Karthik performing, Tendulkar cited the practical difficulties in having Rishabh Pant in the World Cup-bound side.
"It's a nice thought (to have Pant in) but we have already got Dhoni and Karthik playing as a batter, we have two wicket-keepers, who have contributed in our success yesterday. They have had a crucial partnership which won us the match.
"So if you are looking to have Pant in the team that means you have to remove a proper batter or one bowler, and I don't think we can afford to remove a bowler. So if he replaces a proper batter who doesn't bowl, then its okay but if he is going to replace an all-rounder then that's going to cost us," Tendulkar opined.
No praise is enough for skipper Virat Kohli and the maestro felt that Indian captain's situational awareness is something that puts him in a different league.
"Fantastic (innings). I was listening to his interview yesterday as to how he calculates and also there are patches in between where you have to take a bit of risk and press the accelerator harder, that's exactly what he has done.
"I have always maintained that he is an excellent reader of the game and as we call it, one has to have situational awareness. I think that awareness is very very high," he said.
He also praised vice-captain Rohit Sharma, who smashed a brilliant 133 in the first ODI and missed the half-century in the second game.
"When it comes to playing big shots, very few players in world cricket come close to him (Rohit). His bat swing is incredible, such a smooth bat swing that he gets distance without any effort. Rohit in full swing makes batting look so easy," he said.
Tendulkar also urged fans to show patience with rookie pacers Mohammed Siraj and Khaleel Ahmed, both of whom struggled against the Australian batsmen.
"It will be too harsh to judge them (Khaleel or Siraj) based on one game. I am very happy that bench strength is playing and understanding that if there are injuries then, these are the guys who will replace the seniors. So we better have them ready and give them exposure at the right time.
"So let's not put too much pressure on them so that they only think about not giving runs rather than thinking about winning matches for India. It's okay to have one or two bad games here and there. It's fine, it's normal. So I would just say that go out and support these guys," Tendulkar said.
(With PTI inputs)