Batting cost us the series: Dhoni
With two 0-4 Test whitewashes, in Australia and England, and now the first Test series defeat at home since 2004-05, Indian cricket is going through one of its toughest phases. The previous one was when India failed to get past the first stage in the 2007 World Cup.
MS Dhoni, who was part of that team as an emerging young India cricketer, has been at the helm of the team in these times of defeat. But the captain feels that this phase is more manageable than the one in 2007.
“This period has been tough but there are not many things that will come even close to what we went through when we were out early from the 2007 World Cup,” MS Dhoni said after India surrendered the Anthony de Mello Trophy to England 2-1. “Having said that, yes, we are going through a tough time and we’re at a stage where the seniors will have to take the responsibility of leading from the front till the time the youngsters settle into Test cricket and start performing consistently.”
This series was built up as the ‘Revenge Series’ after India’s 0-4 humiliation in England last year. But Dhoni said it was purely the media’s way of selling the series and that the cricketers don’t see the game as a medium to get even.
“As cricketers you may go overseas and perform badly. But you don’t come back home with a feeling of revenge. The word ‘revenge’ brings in a lot of desperation. When two good sides are playing against each other, it’s important to keep words like revenge away. In the end, the team that performs well on a consistent basis wins the series,” the Indian captain said while admitting that England were a better side throughout the last three Tests.
According to the captain, it was batting that let India down. He thought the loss of six wickets in a session in the second innings of the Kolkata Test was the turning point of the series.
“Losing six wickets in a session in Kolkata was very crucial. It was very important to absorb the pressure at that time so that the batsmen coming after you can bat freely. It’s not about soaking in the pressure and building partnerships,” said Dhoni while adding the batsmen’s ability to stretch the Test into a fourth innings was a cause of concern. “We were not able to take the match to the fourth innings, which I think is important in the subcontinent. It’s during this innings that the game changes quickly.”
Going into the final Test with 2-1 down, India decided to ring in changes and pencilled in youngsters like Piyush Chawla and Ravindra Jadeja. However, the two failed to have any impact on the game. Chawla, in particular, looked very ordinary in both innings, as the batsmen scored freely off him even on a slow wicket. The captain, however, backed him.
“It is not fair to assess a youngster on the basis of one game. You have to see how he performs in a few games. Piyush came in after five years so he would feel the nerves. Also, I don’t think it was a very good wicket for him to bowl on.
“ It didn’t have any pace, so it became difficult for him to deceive the batsman with his wrong ‘un or the leg-spinner. All these things should be taken into consideration when judging a player’s performance. It’s not only the runs or the wickets that gauge whether the batsman or bowler is doing well,” Dhoni said in his bowler’s defence.
He once again, stressed on the importance of giving a prospective player long rope. “If you don’t give chances to the youngsters how do you know whether they are good enough or not?” he demanded. “Once you pick players who you think are very talented, it’s important to back them and giving them enough chances to prove their worth.”
“The wicket at Mumbai was the best. It had a lot of turn and bounce for the spinners and since the ball came on nicely the batsmen could also play their shots. On the subcontinent that’s the most sporting wicket you can have,” Dhoni said.
While the series has been dominated by batsmen and spinners, Dhoni had special mention for James Anderson, England’s pace spearhead.
“I thought James Anderson bowled very well in the series on the wickets that weren’t of much help for the fast bowlers. He troubled the batsmen with the reverse swing. I think Anderson was the major difference between the two sides.”