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‘We batted superbly’

Calcutta: Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be a happy man. Or a relieved captain, to be precise. The patchy show against Afghanistan had raised eyebrows. But the thumping victory against England, the defending champions, will iron out the creases on his forehead.

Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony, Dhoni was all praise for his batsmen. “It was a fantastic performance. We rested a few key players, which meant that the boys needed to take up a bit of responsibility… We batted superbly… People might say that we were slow for the first 15 overs, but we were not over-aiming,” he said.

He lauded the job of the bowlers as well. “We had five bowlers and they took up the responsibility… Initially, we gave away a few runs… But what was good was we got a couple of wickets. It was important to take wickets with the new ball,” Dhoni said.

Speaking in support of his decision to leave out a few first team players, Dhoni said: “It was a difficult decision to leave out a player of Virender Sehwag’s calibre and other key players…

“But we requested the seniors because we felt that we could try a few things in this particular game… Especially, as could get to know what is the right combination.”

About the surprise move to open the innings with Irfan Pathan, the captain said: “The reason we opened with Irfan was because he is a gutsy player. He might not look very nice on the wicket, but he is always ready for these sort of challenges. And it also meant that there was no change in the middle-order… We batted in the same slot and that was a good sign for us.”

Not only Harbhajan Singh, the Indian XI on Sunday also included leggie Piyush Chawla. Why two spinners when the common view is that the pitches in Lanka are said to be assisting seamers this time? “We played with two spinners because of the pitch… We also knew that the England batsmen struggle against spin. Our fast bowlers were not bowling really well… Whatever the reason maybe…

“It might be because of the pitch or some other factor… So, we thought we need to go back to what our strength is,” Dhoni explained.