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’07 Cup exit had hurt more: Dhoni

Nagpur: For sure, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is disappointed on India having lost the four-match Test series to England. However, according to the India captain, nothing can come close to the dejection he and his teammates experienced after India’s pre-mature exit from the 2007 World Cup, at the Caribbean.

“The past year-and-a-half has been tough... But there are not many things that will come close to what we went through after being knocked out of the 2007 World Cup. I don’t think this (1-2 defeat) is even close to that,” Dhoni said, adding: “We are going through a stage where we’ll have to see what really works for us.

“The few big players who have left us means that the youngsters who are coming through, will have to fill in the gap. The seniors have to take extra responsibility till the juniors start taking wickets and scoring runs.”

India’s strategy of placing very few close-in fielders, especially when they needed to force the issue during England’s second innings, left everyone perplexed.

But defending his approach, Dhoni emphasised that aggression is more about analysing and finding out ways to dismiss rival batsmen. He also cited the nature of the pitch that didn’t support an aggressive field setting. “What’s important is that we bowled for 10 hours and got just three batsmen out… So you got to evaluate how the wicket was.

“The easier thing that could have been done was to have three or four slips. But at the same time, the wicket should support it. It’s true I didn’t have a silly point or short-leg for a long time… But tell me honestly, how many balls went there?” Dhoni said.

The captain also opined that the pitch at the VCA Stadium, on the final day, was better for stroke-play.

“We saw at least five to nine on-drives against the spin, which means the grass had grown, making the track slightly better-paced for batsmen to play their strokes. So there are a lot of things that need to be seen before just saying that we needed to be aggressive,” he said.

Dhoni did not blame the VCA for the wicket, but his reservations were quite evident. “They (VCA) tried to make a good wicket... There is no recipe, like pouring 10 litres of water and rolling for 15 days, that will help produce a particular type of wicket. It’s difficult to make a good wicket. But, as long as the effort is there to make a good pitch, it’s accepted. The wicket, here, maybe was on the flatter side. Still, at least an effort was there to prepare a good track,” he said.

But he maintained that turners were the best option in the subcontinent, since it’s not easy to prepare other kinds of wickets in this part of the world. “Of course, sometimes you see wickets like the one we just finished playing on, where the match finishes in a draw... It’s all part and parcel of the game. It is very difficult to prepare other kinds of wickets in the subcontinent,” he said.

Despite India being humiliated in Mumbai on a square-turner, Dhoni reiterated that the Wankhede pitch was the ideal one. “The wicket in Mumbai was very good, having a lot of turn and bounce for the spinners. You can say that it was a sporting wicket where the batsman also had his chance as the ball came on to the bat nicely.”

On what led to India’s series defeat, Dhoni blamed the batsmen for failing to put up partnerships. “Batting was the department where we lacked... We needed to score more runs. We weren’t able to get big partnerships, which could have had a big impact,” he said.

Dhoni also stressed that youngsters should be given their due opportunities instead of being obsessed over the numbers beside their names. “It’s very difficult to assess a youngster based on just one performance… You have to see how he fares once he plays a few matches. You won’t get all the young players to score big hundreds in their first game. In fact, some players who turned out as big names later in their career had started off poorly. So you need to back youngsters who you think are very talented,” he explained.