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Score line not on our minds: Dhoni

India captain says the 1-0 lead will not dictate terms when picking XI for third test

Going into the third Test against England, India find themselves in the box seat with a 1-0 lead. However, skipper, MS Dhoni, believes the score line is of little importance in a five-match series and it will not dictate terms on what personnel are called upon for the Southampton Test.

“In a five-Test series a 1-0 lead is not really big. So, we will not be looking at the score line yet when making the team-related decisions,” Dhoni said. “We will look at the wicket and play the team that is best on that wicket.”

The Indian captain hinted there will be changes in the playing XI, but kept the specifics under wrap. “People always say, why mend something that’s not broken?” he said. “But when you’re on top and doing well, the others are trying to catch up with you. If you stay at the same position, the others are climbing up towards you. So, we will see how the wicket is and accordingly will field the best combination.”

One thing that was very clear, however, from Dhoni’s words is that Ravindra Jadeja will get a game at the Ageas Bowl, meaning R Ashwin will have to wait for his turn if India continue to field one spinner.

“When he starts being himself while batting, you see he has a lot of talent,” Dhoni said about Jadeja, referring to his 68-run knock in the second innings of the Lord’s Test. “The innings he played at Lord’s will give him a lot of confidence going forward in all the Test matches that he plays.”

Stressing on Jadeja’s importance in the bowling attack, Dhoni continued, “It also gives us the liberty of resting the other bowlers because he will keep it tight from one end, irrespective of whether the ball is turning or not. He is a very vital instrument in our playing XI as of now.”

The captain was also all praise for Murali Vijay, who has batted brilliantly under pressure in the first two Tests. Dhoni wants his opener to stick with the process that got him the knocks of 146 and 95 at Trent Bridge and Lord’s respectively.

“He has been batting really well,” Dhoni said. “What he has done well in this series is that he has left the balls well, which is very crucial. But at the same time he has been positive in that he has not been afraid to drive the balls that are meant to be driven. He has scored those runs and played his shots.

“The important thing for him now will be to capitalize on the start he has got in the first two Tests and not think about the runs he has already scored. He will do well to just be in the present and adapt to the wicket that he is batting on, on that particular day,” Dhoni said.

Shirin Sadikot

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I am hurt by the verdict against Jadeja: Dhoni

India captain says he wants the BCCI to appeal against the 50 per cent fine imposed

After the BCCI expressed their dissatisfaction over Ravindra Jadeja being fined 50 per cent of his match fees over the incident with James Anderson on Day 2 of the Trent Bridge Test, it was Team India captain, MS Dhoni, who made his displeasure known in no uncertain terms.

On the eve of the third Test against England in Southampton, Dhoni said he was “hurt” by the ICC’s verdict because he witnessed the entire incident and was certain that Jadeja did not perform any act of aggression.

“To me it is a very hurtful decision because I felt a lot of things were neglected in judging the case,” Dhoni said, before narrating the whole incident in detail.

“What exactly happened was the umpire called lunch and we started to walk. There was this individual who once again used foul language against Jadeja and I had to step in the middle.

“By the time we reached the ropes, I thought it had diffused. But when we reached the players’ area, Jadeja was walking a couple of yards behind me. Again something was said to him and he turned across to the individual and that’s when he was pushed. He barely regained his balance and turned to see what was really happening. And on the basis of that he is fined,” Dhoni described.

The captain said with conviction that not a single word was uttered by Jadeja from the time the two of them began to walk towards the pavilion until they reached the dressing room.

“If someone says something to you from behind and you turn to look, that is not an aggressive act,” Dhoni asserted. “The bat was under Jadeja’s armpit throughout and right from when the lunch break was called till he entered the dressing room, not one word was spoken by Jadeja.

“It’s for you guys to decide from whatever I am saying and if I haven’t lied, whether whatever Jadeja did was aggressive. I don’t think there was even a hint of aggression in what he did and that’s why I am hurt by the verdict that has been given,” the captain said.

“Jadeja gets charged for Level 2 and gets punished under Level 1. The beauty of Level 1 is that you can’t appeal against the verdict. But the BCCI and its legal team are working things out because we are definitely not happy with the verdict.”

Dhoni was also mindful of the consequences if the current verdict is upheld. “It will become difficult for me as captain,” he said. “Tomorrow, if something like this happens again and I ask my player to not say a word, he will tell me, ‘Even if I don’t say anything, I will be fined 50 per cent of my fees. So, I might as well abuse the guy and be fined rather than losing my money for being abused’.”

When asked whether he wants the BCCI to go ahead with the appeal, Dhoni said without any hesitation, “Definitely”.

Shirin Sadikot

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