Time to bring back the smiles: Dhoni
Mumbai, Nov 12: I have been privileged to be part of a side that has had some eventful tussles against England.
My first engagement against them was at home in early 2006. We won the second Test, but lost the third at Mumbai. It was a disappointing loss, which we made up for with a convincing 6-1 triumph in the ODI series that followed. No one gave us a chance when we toured England in 2007, in the wake of our disastrous World Cup campaign. Yet, we played some excellent cricket to win the Test series. Zaheer Khan was particularly outstanding in that series.
The two-Test series of 2008-09 will always be remembered for our chase of a target of 387, at Chennai. Kevin Pietersen had victory on his mind when he declared on the fourth afternoon. We were expected to be under some sort of pressure on a wearing wicket, but trust Virender Sehwag to turn the tables. His incredible innings transformed the game, and then Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh took over. I will never forget our celebrations after the game.
We had a tough time in England last year. We were plagued by injury issues, and we did not bat, bowl and field well enough. England were outstanding in all three departments, and they deserved to win the series.
The forthcoming series promises to be a cracker. We will be going flat out to maintain our dominance at home, while England will be looking to erase the memories of their recent travails in UAE. England have some quality players, and so have we.
The series will also provide some youngsters an opportunity to establish themselves in the national squad, after the recent retirements of two of our greatest cricketers. Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are irreplaceable. I wish most of the youngsters, if not all, make these opportunities count. They have the talent, and it is now time to display it, against one of the best cricket teams in the world. There is no bigger high in cricket than success against a formidable opponent. Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, to name just two players, have proved that they belong to the highest level of the sport, and one hopes that others take a cue from them.
A lot of people have said a lot of things in the lead-up to the series, one of them being a theory of sorts that our spinners will be the difference between the two sides. I believe that is an unfair comment. Make no mistake, the likes of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar are as capable of exploiting conducive conditions, as our spinners. The team that wins more sessions will win the series.
We will be going into the series, fully aware that millions will be watching us and praying for our success. We have a lot to play for, and will do our best to make our supporters smile.