Manchester: India captain Virat Kohli paid rich tributes to MS Dhoni as the team prepared to face New Zealand in the ICC World Cup 2019 semi-final at Old Trafford.

On Monday (July 8), Kohli was asked about the current edition of the World Cup which is most likely to be Dhoni's last and the skipper elaborated on the contribution the wicketkeeper-batsman had made to Indian cricket.

Also read: Full text of Kohli's press conference before semi-final

He was also asked whether he had any plans of giving send off similar to that of Sachin Tendulkar in 2011, for Dhoni.

“I didn't prepare that one in 2011 so I'm certainly not going to write anything down,” Kohli said of carrying Tendulkar on his shoulders at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on April 2, 2011 after the World Cup final win.

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He continued, “But yeah, I'm sure everyone, if you asked them about him (Dhoni), they have special things to say. And especially for us who started our careers under him. For us that doesn't change. The respect will always be there because of the opportunities that he gave us and the faith that he showed in us and the way he's handled the whole team in transition over so many years.”

“And now we are the ones who are taking Indian cricket forward. We understand the importance of that process. So I'm glad you asked about MS, the personality, because a lot has been in focus otherwise.

“But yeah, look, when a person has done so much for the team you have to appreciate and acknowledge what he's done for Indian cricket and how he's handled Indian cricket and taken the respect for Indian cricket so high all over the world.

“So yeah, from that point of view, we are all very grateful for what he's done for Indian cricket and for us. And he's always been in a very happy, jovial mood all the time whenever we see him and yesterday again was a very happy moment for him, for the whole team, to see a smile on his face and he's in a very comfortable, very happy space at the moment,” he added.

Kohli said the focus now for him and the team was Tuesday’s (July 9) semi-final against the Kiwis.

“I'm not thinking of anything apart from that because the main focus right now is to do what we need to do tomorrow and then on to another one hopefully and yeah, just have a good World Cup,” he said.

The Delhi right-hander said his respect for Dhoni is “sky-high”.

He explained, “But from the respect point of view for MS, it's always going to be sky-high, especially in my eyes, because I know how difficult it can be to make a transition of captaining also, you know, within the same team, just playing as a player after being captain for so many years and still not being too assertive or too pushy in anything. He gives you space to make your own decisions and to actually discover yourself, so I think that's been his biggest quality.

“At the same time, I go ask him anything, he's there giving me advice and he's never shying away from that. So yeah, he's been outstanding and I'm delighted that I have been able to play for so many years alongside him.”

On Sunday (July 7), Dhoni turned 38. He celebrated his birthday with his teammates in England by cutting a cake. The official Twitter handle of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shared a video of the same.