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Dhoni credits the spinners

- india clinch ODI series with five-wicket victory
Shikhar Dhawan, after his century, in the final ODI against the West Indies, in Kanpur, on Wednesday. (PTI)

Kanpur: Mahendra Singh Dhoni lauded his spinners for bringing India back into the game during the middle overs in the third ODI, against the West Indies, here, on Wednesday. Improvement in death bowling, too, played its role in helping India win the series, Dhoni pointed out.

“A total of 280 would have been a big total on this track. But the spinners brought us back in the middle overs,” Dhoni said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

The following are excerpts

Mahendra Singh Dhoni: It was a fantastic match. Once you win the toss and field, it is important to restrict the opponents to a small total. And I’m glad that our bowlers didn’t let the West Indies post an imposing total.

We bowled well in this match. But, we were a bit unlucky too. There were some edges that did not carry, apart from the play-and-misses.

I felt it was not a regular Kanpur wicket. The wicket was much better to bat on. When I was batting during the last few overs, the ball was still coming on nicely. That is why 260 seemed a below par total. A score of 280 would have been an imposing one on this wicket. But the spinners bowled well in the middle overs to restrict the opposition. The bowling in the death overs was also good. Credit should go to our bowlers.

There are a lot of positives for us. If you compare the kind of death bowling we did during the Australia series to the one we have done today, you will find improvements. We were not missing the mark.

Even if we were missing the yorkers, it wasn’t by much. They were ending up as low full tosses. So in that way, there’s some kind of improvement. Another big positive is the bowling of the spinners — Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja — in the middle overs.

Yuvraj Singh, after his half-century, on Wednesday

Also, the likes of Suresh Raina and other part-timers are chipping in, which is a great sign. In the batting department, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have been giving us great starts. Virat Kohli has been in great form throughout the season. And when needed, the middle-order has finished off games. So there are a lot of positives. We just need to keep going.

Dwayne Bravo: Playing against India at their own backyard is always difficult. Having saying that, I believe we did very well with the bat. At one stage it looked that we would reach to somewhere around 235. But Darren Sammy played a fantastic innings again. And we also can’t forget the innings of Marlon Samuels, Kieran Powell and Darren Bravo.

We lost a few quick wickets towards the end. Lendl Simmons and myself got out at a crucial time. We should have capitalised on the conditions better. Against a strong Indian batting line-up, I believe we were about 20 runs short. Chasing 280-odd runs instead of 260 could have led to a different ball game. Still, it was a two-paced wicket and 263 was a par score.

I had expected a better performance from our bowlers. The bowlers should have done better to defend the target. Effort on the field could also have been better.

That said, Ravi Rampaul and Sunil Narine bowled their hearts out. We played some good cricket against the No.1 side in the world. Obviously there are a lot of positives to take back.

Shikhar Dhawan (MoM): It has been a great year for me. And I am thankful to the Almighty for helping me and my team do well. We usually play on these kinds of tracks back in Delhi and I am used to playing on them.

I knew there would not be enough bounce on this wicket and so I can play the drives easily. That’s why I stuck to my natural game and got a hundred.

I had also played well in the previous matches, but couldn’t convert the starts. So I was determined to score big this time around. Obviously, when you are in good form, you would like to cash in on it.

I am really happy with my formů The team is gelling well and doing brilliantly. I’m certainly looking forward to South Africa.

Virat Kohli (MoS): I am just trying to make the most of my form that I am in. I am hitting the ball well and just trying to stay in that zone. So far, it has come off well. But the most important tour for us is coming up now when we head to South Africa. It is good to get a few runs under the belt before we reach there.

I try to score as many runs as I can whenever I go out to bat. Getting runs regularly makes you stay in a nice, happy space. The top three — Rohit Sharma, Shikhar and myself — together scored nearly 1,500 runs this year. Even the middle-order, with Dhoni there, has risen to the occasion. The load is being shared and that is why we are the No. 1 ODI side right now.

South Africa series is going to be a challenge, and this team likes challenges. I think we are good enough to stand up to it. I’m sure we won’t disappoint.