Turning pitch changed game: MSD
Mumbai, Nov 26: After an action-packed fifth day, the last Test of the three-match series ended in a draw with scores level on the last ball at the Wankhede Stadium. With the visitors ending Day 4 on 81 for the loss of two wickets in their second innings, an uneventful draw looked most likely; but India bowled out the visitors before lunch on Day 5 and came out to bat needing 243 to win, infusing the game with real thrill.
In the post-match press conference, Indian captain MS Dhoni spoke about the unexpected turn of events on the last day of the match and the team’s performance.
On what the team were expecting going into the last day of the match
What we told ourselves [was] that in the first hour we would look to get wickets. If you don’t get wickets in the first hour, and the more runs they add on, the less time [you have] to chase the score. But the bowlers bowled really well and we were able to get them all out before the lunch session. That gave us the opportunity to chase down the target.
On the way the pitch behaved on the last day
Frankly I don’t know what really happened, it started to turn in the morning. Till yesterday evening everything was fine.[…] [Laughter] I am seriously saying, I am not joking, something happened in the morning and it started to turn and most of us [had] thought it will be a draw but turned into a tie [draw with scores level]; it was a close game.
On R Ashwin not taking the second run
He tried but he did not reach [the crease]; it was not a double.
On the way the day turned out
[…] As I said it was very important to get wickets in the first half and we were able to do that in the first hour of the first session and that really changed the game for us. We were able to put pressure on the opposition batsman, tried to create a bit of panic. We were able to put pressure on most of them; that was one of the main reasons why we were successful in the first session.
On R Ashwin’s batting
Let him take wickets – that is the priority. If he scores runs that is a bonus for our side, so don’t put pressure on him.
On the Indian batsmen’s dismissals
Most of our dismissals happened at the wrong time. When some kind of partnership was [developing] we lost a wicket and then again the pressure was back on us and [we] were again able to develop a few more partnerships; but we kept losing wickets at the wrong time. The wicket was a bit different. Most of the batsmen who got out were the ones who were playing shots so I won’t say [it was] very easy. It was quite easy to stay on the wicket but it was difficult to score runs. A few of us thought [that] if we could rotate and look for those singles [then] it would become easier as the game progresses. But [the ball] went to the fielder so we were back under pressure. So I don’t think it is really one dismissal that you can say was a turning point. It was a good game of cricket at the end of the day.
There was a bit of bounce for the spinners and for the fast bowlers; […] you have to be really careful [about] the pitch of the ball and if you are not, the batsmen get out caught at the covers or mid-wicket. So you have to be careful.
On Virat Kohli
It’s a learning phase for everyone, not only him. You learn a lot from the games that you play so the next time in the same situation he may bat in a different way. Even the most experienced players tend to make these kinds of mistakes. It is nothing to worry about, really. If you learn something out of each and every game that helps you improve as a cricketer. I am hoping he learns a lot out of games likes these.
On the wicket
This wicket, if you see the first three or four days [then], losing the toss doesn’t really help [on wickets like these]. They had to really flight the ball to get some kind of turn or purchase out of the wicket. The West Indies batsmen, most of them were not using their feet, which meant they couldn’t afford to do that. The first two wickets that he [R Ashwin] took on the first day were really good ones and after that he had to work hard. Both the spinners did a very good job for us; not to forget, for the first time ever our over rate was plus 15 to 19 and some big numbers. I hope this carries on. What I would like to see is wickets [like the] one we played on Day 5. I want the wickets to turn like that from the very first day because that’s when you send a bit of panic to the opposition dressing room and at the same time you are under pressure to perform; that’s what’s makes it interesting. I don’t know when the last time was that we played on a wicket that was really turning square. The last time when we played at CCI maybe it was turning but it was the morning session where it turned a bit extra and there was bounce for the spinners but as the game progressed there was not much there. I am hoping that we stick to our kind of wicket and it should turn from the very first day which doesn’t make the toss very important.
On Ishant Sharma’s bowling in the series
There are plenty of times when the bowlers bowl good deliveries and the batsman doesn’t edge it to the slip or once he edges there is no slip fielder or it falls short of the slip fielder. So it’s all about how well you are bowling, how consistent you are and in this series he bowled consistently well. He was up when it comes to the pace and he was bowling in the right areas. You don’t always have to bowl brilliant deliveries but it really helps to put pressure on a consistent basis on the batsmen. Overall I was very happy with the kind of bowling he did throughout the series.
On Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragayan Ojha being part of the side
There will come a time when a few of our senior players will retire and all of a sudden you don’t want youngsters to replace them. [R] Ashwin has played three Test matches, [PP] Ojha has played close to five or six Test matches – so no point putting them under pressure by saying he’ll be able to get as many wickets as Anil Kumble did or Harbhajan Singh did. At the moment just look at them. They bowled well, they were able to put pressure and when there was nothing […] They didn’t let the opposition score freely. Most of the [time] I don’t think there was much turn for them and they had to keep it tight at the same time. Overall I’m happy with their bowling throughout the series
On the forthcoming tour to Australia
It looks like a very good side. In the last three games, Umesh [Yadav] and Varun [Aaron] have played games and we have seen they can bowl quick. They must have learned a lot out of these games and at the same time the spinners have done well. Our batting order remains the same it’s full strength when it comes to the batting order. Hopefully we will do well.
On Zaheer Khan’s recovery and fitness
There is nothing in my hand; Zak is giving his hundred percent. Whenever he has to do some kind of rehab, he does really well. We are hoping that he is hundred percent fit for the Australia series and once he goes and plays in the first-class game, that will [help to] judge to some extent where he feels he is. What we saw of the practice session [is that] he is quite fit so hopefully he will be fit for the series and hopefully nothing more will happen in the next game that he plays .