Such wins get the team together: Dhoni
Although it couldn’t salvage the series for them, the thrilling 10-run win in the final ODI against Pakistan has come as a welcome change for Team India, reeling under the stigma of defeats. What’s more is that this particular victory came while defending 167 runs and on the back of an outstanding team performance in the field.
Skipper MS Dhoni, who has the unenviable task of keeping the dressing room morale high despite the losses, believes this win will go a long way towards reinstating the belief within the team.
“What’s important is this win will really take the team forward because games like this will really motivate you a lot,” said Dhoni. “Games like these get the team together. The bowlers start believing in themselves and the batsmen take the positive initiative of saying we want to fight and give enough runs for the bowlers to defend.
Dhoni was also pleased that it was a combined team effort that won India the match. “It’s not about a few individuals who need to perform. Everyone needs to contribute. Frankly, I am not looking for someone to score a big hundred or 150.
“What will be really satisfying is the 40 or 45-run contributions and one big 75-80 run partnership and everybody batting around it, which means all the batsmen will be in form. Yes, we are going through a tough period, but I think this team has the character to get out of it,” the Indian captain said.
Like his Pakistani counterpart, Misbah-ul-Haq, the Indian skipper too believed that India’s fielding made all the difference in the end. “We fielded very well, saved at least 20 runs, which has a huge impact on a game like this because it was not a high-scoring game,” Dhoni said.
The skipper also had words of praise for his bowlers. “The fast bowlers bowled really well. It was important to get wickets with the new ball and Bhuvneshwar did that by getting us breakthroughs. After that, the other two fast bowlers capitalised and the pressure kept mounting. Then, the spinners too bowled very well. Overall, a very good team effort, but for me the fielding was outstanding.”
Despite the victory, the poor form of his batsmen wasn’t lost on Dhoni. “I can say in the team’s defence that we made the runs that were needed (for victory) but yes, we should have scored more,” he said. “Initially, there was a bit of movement for the fast bowlers but in the middle stages, we lost many wickets which we shouldn’t have. It was a good track, we should have made a minimum of 220 or 225.”
Dhoni revealed how he inspired his boys to lift their game after yet another sub-par batting performance. “168 was not really enough but we told ourselves that we would not look at the board. We said we would focus on the areas to bowl in and what we needed to do. It paid off.
“The bowlers bowled a very disciplined line. Sometimes while defending a low score, bowlers try too hard and can be all over the place but here they bowled in the right areas. As captain, even I thought this total was not enough, so we had very attacking fields. There were a lot of gaps but our bowling was excellent.”
While describing Ravindra Jadeja as a “Contributive cricketer”, Dhoni explained the reason behind the all-rounder batting at No.8, behind R Ashwin.
“He batted below Ashwin, the reason being there were two off-spinners bowling and two right-handers would have found it easier to rotate the strike. Also, Ashwin is a proper batsman but he may not be able to slog, he cannot use the bottom hand really well. One of the reasons for Ashwin batting ahead of Jadeja was that if me and Ashwin had got a partnership going, Jadeja could have come in and just expressed himself,” he said.
Dhoni also had a word of praise for Shami Ahmed, who returned with figures of 9-4-23-1 on debut. “It’s important to realise that it was his first game in front of a big crowd,” Dhoni said. “His performance was really good. He backed himself to bowl in the areas that he usually bowls in. The more he plays, the better he will get because you need to test bowlers under different conditions. Today, he was brilliant, he kept hitting the same areas and he troubled the openers also initially.”