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We have a very settled combination: Dhoni

Chennai: Mahendra Singh Dhoni doesn’t wish to rate his 224 at the Chepauk as his best.

“I think I don’t have many big innings so it’s slightly easy for me to choose… But at the same time it’s difficult to choose because I don’t have many. I feel the 76 not out I scored at Lord’s in the 2007 series was very special because that innings helped us win the series.

“It’s not the amount of runs, often it’s the weightage of the innings that matters. It might be just a 25-30 runs you’ve scored, but if they have a big impact on the match or series, that can be really special,” the Man of the Match said.

He also didn’t wish to compare this knock against Australia with his debut century at Faisalabad against the Shoaib Akhtars.

“Well, as I said, every innings is special in its own way. It was completely different conditions out there in Faisalabad. There was not much for the fast bowlers or the spinners. But still if someone was bowling at 155-odd kmph… He’s quick on any surface. For me, both of these innings are special. I don’t really believe in comparisons. I just enjoyed the first one… I’ve enjoyed both.”

He didn’t wish to dedicate his knock to anyone. “I’ll keep it to myself,” he quipped.

After being dismissed for 99 in his last Test did he feel the pressure when in the Nineties?

“I’ve got five 90s, so it doesn’t weigh any more... Seriously, I’ve got out in the 90s plenty of times. I personally believe it’s the top six batsmen who should contribute… Okay, I’m batting at No. 6 now! But they’re the ones who really worry about the 100s.

“I’ve never thought about 100s. I remember the 92 I scored at the Oval in 2007. Dilip Vengsarkar was there and he said whether I’d do anything different. I said no, I’d bat the same way, and if I get a chance to hit, I’d hit. So nothing much has changed,” he said.

“What really matters is the job I’m trying to do. The best thing I’ve done so far is to not watch news or read newspapers, so that has really helped… The demands were very different here and in Nagpur. This game was evenly poised at that point of time and Nathan Lyon was bowling well. So it was important to play a few big shots at that time so that you could get rid of that extra catching fielder near you….

Dhoni justified the decision to play two off-spinners and leave out Pragyan Ojha. “You have to see the opposition line-up. Especially in this Test match there were lots of left-handers and we assumed that the wicket would turn. Often it’s said that the away-going spinner is quite difficult to play... Still, we had someone like Jadeja who can bowl long spells and at the same time can be conservative in the sense that he can bowl really tight. That was the one of the main reasons we said let’s go with two off-spinners…”

The Indian captain was happy with the composition. “You have to see the conditions. In India it can be a big plan… But once you go abroad, you have to see what would be your combination because we need to get good fast bowlers and at the same time you have to get the balance of the side right… So we need to find the right combination.

“As of now, with three more Tests coming up, this looks like a very settled bowling and batting line-up. Yes, Jadeja would have to improve slightly when it comes to his batting but at least he has the talent to get it going.”

Dhoni was all praise for Ravichandran Aswhin, who picked up 12 wickets in the Test after an unsuccessful series against England. “Yes, he bowled really well. We all need to respect the fact that he’s someone who’s got a lot of variations, and that’s his strength. Often, when you go through a lean period, people say that he’s not consistent, that he should just bowl his off-spin. Other bowlers don’t have a lot of variety but they keep bowling and getting the wickets. But if you look from his point of view, it’s very difficult because he knows he can bowl those variations.

Overall, I’m very happy with his bowling. Bhajji was a bit tentative in the first innings but in the second innings he came out very strongly. He was very consistent with his length. It’s a very good sign for us.”

Dhoni seemed satisfied with the wicket. “Yes, this wicket was looking ugly, when you went in to bat you saw so many rough patches, you feared that it would do much. But once you get used to the pace and bounce of the wicket, then it becomes slightly easy to bat on.

“At the same time, as the days passed by, the wicket became a bit difficult to bat on in the sense that if a few balls bounced at you, and if you’re not having a very good time, you might get out on that particular delivery. Apart from that, the wicket played quite even throughout the Test match.”

He was in favour of giving the opening combination some more chances. “You need to give them a fair amount of time. Let’s hope for the best.”

Can playing four spinners be an option?

“Four or five can be an option but you have to be sure that the wicket will turn. On the very first day, most of us assumed that it would be a turning track, it would have plenty for the spinners. But we saw it was a decent wicket…