Keeping to Kumble, Bhajji helped: Dhoni
New Delhi, Nov 10: India took a 1-0 lead in the ongoing three-match series against West Indies after defeating the visitors by five wickets on Day 3 of the first Test.
With both teams having a chance of winning the game at the end of Day 3, the experienced Indian batting line-up sealed victory with a controlled batting performance in the second innings.
“If we had the first innings lead it would have been a perfect start to the series. We did not do well in the first innings. If our batsmen see how they were out in the first innings, they would think that they should not have been out and done much better. Considering the difficult pitch, a bit of application from the batsmen should have helped,” the Indian skipper said at the post-match press conference.
Speaking about the Kotla pitch, Dhoni said, “Venue-wise, historically Kotla has been a difficult track but I don’t think it was a bad wicket. It’s a typical Kotla track which favours spin more. It’s slow and low and difficult to score. It’s difficult in its own way. I hope Kolkata will be different.”
“There was nothing much for the batsmen [or] bowlers. The batsmen will have to work hard for runs while the bowlers will have to be patient and bowl in the right areas consistently [whenever they play here],” he added.
“It’s different from earlier tracks in only [one] way – there was a bit of grass. On the third day you can see grass roots and it showed that the track would not break down,” Dhoni elaborated.
The captain praised debutants Ravichandran Ashiwn and Umesh Yadav and appreciated the efforts of the economical Pragyan Ojha. “Despite the difficult pitch, the bowlers took their opportunities. Pragyan Ojha did well and Ravichandran Ashwin got nine wickets on debut. Umesh Yadav improved in the second innings though he has a tendency to bowl a fraction short […] He will learn as he plays more games.”
About Vidarbha pacer Umesh Yadav, Dhoni said, “He clocked above 135 kmph consistently and it’s good to have a bowler of that speed. He will learn more as he plays more international cricket.
“Ashwin won the Match-of-the-Match [award] on debut. He had the variations and flighted the ball well. He used his carrom ball and top-spinners well,” Dhoni remarked.
“We know what we can expect from Ojha and Ishant [Sharma] but not about Ashwin and Umesh Yadav. So it was a bit difficult,” Dhoni replied when asked about playing without pace spearhead Zaheer Khan and senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
Discussing Harbhajan’s chances of making a comeback into the side, Dhoni said, “Let’s see. Ojha did well and Ashwin won Match-of-the-Match in his debut match.”
“[Virender] Sehwag and [Gautam] Gambhir gave [us] a good start in the first innings and did the same in the second innings. The middle order played well in the second innings and we won,” he said.
Dhoni, who on Monday became the first Indian wicketkeeper to have 200 Test dismissals to his name, credited Anil Kumble and Harbhajan for his improved skills as a keeper.
“I was not that good when I started my career as a wicketkeeper. I started keeping to Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh’s bowling. When Anil bowls his leg-spin in the rough on Indian wickets you know it is like leaving it to god.
“I have improved a lot since then, maybe because I started keeping against Anil and Bhajji, but it’s a long way to go. Records do not matter much. Hopefully I remain out of major injuries. If the injuries are minor it does not create much of a problem,” he said.
Speaking about the pressure on master batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who became the first batsman to complete 15,000 runs in Test cricket on Day 3 of the match, Dhoni said, "We are not under pressure as a team. The media are putting pressure on him. Let him score his hundred and he will do it at some point of time. He is pretty good at doing that and he will do it. Let him score the hundred without pressure.
"If you are talking about the gentleman, expectations from him […] have been as high as Everest. Since his second year in international cricket, he has been the star. When he [steps on a] cricket field and scores 50, people say he has not scored runs and it has been like this each and every day.
"And what we have seen is that any individual, when he [approaches] a milestone, he may take a little bit longer than usual. But I think it's around the corner. We have to wait and see."