|Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ishant Sharma speak to Alastair Cook during the presentation ceremony
London: The 95-run victory over England at Lord’s will remain etched in the memory as one of India’s finest. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni aptly summed it up as a “very memorable game of cricket”.
At the post-match media conference, Dhoni stressed that it was a “special” win because it came at the iconic Lord’s.
The following are excerpts
Coming close to winning in Johannesburg and Wellington
It is a result of hard work and team effort… You won’t always get the result in your favour… But I felt that in the last couple of series outside India, we were in position to seal victories in one game each at both places, but somehow we were not able to do that. What was important was to keep working hard. Keep giving the same kind of preparation and thinking to each game… And because of that, we have sealed this victory. It was fantastic to see the kind of effort and determination that this team gave… A very memorable game of cricket for us.
If he learnt something from the Johannesburg and Wellington experiences
For me, the process is important… That’s the reason why I can forget the past. We cannot think about the past that we didn’t do this or that… Yes there was pressure on us, because with 200 runs needed, we knew there will certainly be a winner in this game. They had a very good partnership going… But once we got a wicket, we made sure we put the pressure back on the opposition.
Comparing this win with the victory in Durban in 2011
I don’t believe in comparisons… Every Test is special for its own reasons, every innings or hundred or fifty is special in its own way. It was a Test where there was a lot of pressure on us…
On his feelings after the victory...
Don’t know how exactly it feels… It will be my last Test at Lord’s… Don’t see myself coming back here. It’s definitely a memorable Test for me. I have played some close Tests here… Still remember the 2007 series, where we drew the match because of bad light, Sreesanth and I were batting at that time. We saved that Test and went on to be victorious in that series. Every match is special and it’s a great to win Test matches outside India. Being Lord’s, yes, it’s very special.
On Ishant bowling short deliveries
To start with, it was very difficult to convince him. When he first came to bowl, I told him to bowl short and it turned the other way round. I set such a field for him so that he doesn’t even think of bowling up… So that was the strategy, give him a field so he is forced to bowl the length that I want him to bowl. It worked and once he got Moeen’s wicket, he was eager enough to try that line for a consistent period of time. He works really hard on his fitness and on his bowling… He doesn’t shy away from bowling long spells. Whenever you ask him to bowl, whatever the situation, he gives his hundred percent.
On the short-ball strategy paying off
There are quite a few ways to look at it… If you block and get out, you can’t play short ball. If you get out, then you are over aggressive… There is only one way of playing short deliveries, and that’s ducking. But modern cricket has changed… Batsmen take up the challenge and they like to play short balls. Ishant bowled very well… It helped him get those wickets.
We just wanted to exploit the conditions and throw a challenge at them and see what they do, duck or play shots… In this case we were lucky and it worked in our favour.
Whether coach Duncan Fletcher too supported the plan
Duncan definitely wants to try everything and he too wants the bowlers to bowl bouncers. We have been trying to convince our bowlers to bowl a few bouncers. We don’t want to force ourselves on the bowlers, but now in the past four or five games, I definitely think their view to bouncers and the short stuff has opened up. Now, they are using it quite consistently.
If most of the players being inexperienced has made the team fearless
What’s important is to see how they are preparing and what their mental approach is… I feel what we have done well is to take them to a position where they feel very comfortable with the team. And they feel as if they are wanted in this scenario and have the backing of team, and not just the captain. That is showing on the field.
On Ravindra Jadeja
Jadeja is very talented… At times, he feels the pressure. It’s important that he gets a few innings like the one he played in this Test, then he will start feeling more confident. Maybe you will see a change in his approach. I think the position where he bats, he has to score quickly, look for runs. What we have seen is that once he attacks, he gets into a much better position to play his strokes.
Dealing with criticisms
It depends on the individuals and they needed to take it as an added responsibility. I have gone through a phase where I have lost eight Test matches in a row and then you will get all sort of comments. If you think you can accomplish the job that has been entrusted to you, then it really doesn’t matter what the world is saying about you.
If Moeen Ali’s wicket was the turning point
Moeen’s wicket was very important because that was the opening we needed at that time. He got out and when the others came in, their approach didn’t work out this particular day… We ended up getting quite a few good catches. Overall, it was good bowling and fielding.
Thoughts before the next Test
We will be concentrating more on things we have been doing right and certain other things we have missed out as a team in the last couple of Test matches that we have played. We are not even thinking about what the opposition wants or what kind of pitch we will be given. We are focusing on improving certain areas. We don’t have too many experienced players, but it is important to seize the chances that come our way. Being humble in cricket is very important.
On Ishant leaving the field towards the closing stages
Ishant had a very long spell and we needed to get one more wicket at that stage. What I told him is that I would be happy to give him the ball and a chance to get eight wickets… But at the same time, if he had the slightest of a niggle, then it is better if he didn’t bowl the next over… I didn’t want him to get injured.