We felt the pressure as it got close: Dhoni
The scorecard of the third Test of the 2013 Border-Gavaskar Trophy will read ‘India won by 6 wickets’. But that won’t do justice to the excruciatingly close game of Test cricket that Mohali witnessed.
Chasing 134, with time ticking off and mandatory overs being wiped off one by one, India got home just in time with some trademark last-minute blitz from MS Dhoni. Such was the heat that the Indian captain, who is celebrated over the country as an epitome of calmness, admitted to being under pressure in the last tense moments.
“It was close. I don’t gamble but the stakes were high and we had everything to lose,” he said after leading India to a 3-0 series win with one Test to go. “If Australia had won this, it would’ve given them a chance to make a comeback in this series.
“We were one batsman short as Shikhar [Dhawan] was unlikely to come to bat [because of a hand injury]. Also, our middle and lower order haven’t been scoring too many runs. All these things tend to be at the back of your mind. We were under a bit of pressure,” Dhoni said.
Dhawan, who scored a Man of the Match-winning 187 on Test debut, suffered an injury while fielding on the fourth day of the Test. He didn’t turn up to open India’s second innings and according to the Indian captain, “Shikhar may not play in the next Test.”
However, Dhoni praised the 27-year-old Delhi opener for announcing himself at the highest level with confidence and style by breaking the record of the fastest Test hundred on debut.
“It was important for him to play his natural game,” Dhoni said. “At times we have seen that the youngsters, to get a chance to play for India, try to change their game too soon. You will be a little nervous to start off, but it’s very important to back yourself because your current game is the reason why you’ve reached this level.
“Shikhar backed himself to play a few shots and once he got past the 50-run mark, he was determined to make it a big innings. The pace at which both openers scored their runs was also very important for us. We didn’t bat for as many overs as Australia did, but we got more runs than them,” the Indian captain said.
Dhoni also had some good words to say about his young medium pacer, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who rattled the Australian top-order in their second innings with a fine display of swing and seam bowling.
“Bhuvnesh is not quick but he’s someone who can move the ball,” Dhoni explained. “So it’s important that we use him with the new ball when it’s skidding on a bit and gives the batsman slightly less time to adjust.
“I think we should use him more when the ball is hard and keep him fresh. That also allows him to work more on his batting as the lower-order contribution is very important. He has got the talent and slowly you’ll see him improve over a period of time,” he said.
While he was questioned about the decision to leave out Pragyan Ojha for the first two Tests, Dhoni faced a similar query about benching Harbhajan Singh in the Mohali Test.
“The reason we played Bhajji was that they had a lot of left-handers in their side. In this Test, with Wade going and Haddin coming in, it gave us an opportunity to play Ojha,” Dhoni said, hinting that Ojha could remain in the playing XI for the Delhi Test.