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Monday , February 25 , 2013
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I really pity Dhoni’s critics: Shastri

‘Virat showed he’s a world-class batsman’

Calcutta: Former India captain and cricket manager Ravi Shastri spoke to The Telegraph from Chennai on Sunday evening.

Much of the one on one had to do with India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Q You’re a double centurion yourself. What does it take to score a double hundred in Test cricket?

A It tests everything... Your character, skill, technique, stamina... Your ability as a performer at the highest level is put to a massive test.

Some words on Dhoni’s innings (batting on 206) at the Chepauk...

Dhoni’s scripted one of the greatest innings by an Indian... I’d even say his double century will rank among the finest by any captain anywhere... The way he counter-attacked the second new ball, in particular, was superb... To score over 200 runs in less than a day is just fantastic.

Where would you place Dhoni’s innings vis-a-vis other captain’s knocks by Indians?

As I’ve said, among the best anywhere, not just in the Indian context.

What stood out?

Many things, considering India were in trouble when he walked in (196 for four)... It was humid, the wicket wasn’t easy... He read the situation very well and counter-attacked when the second new ball was taken.

Dhoni triggered mayhem, but remained calm himself...

That’s his style.

Will this innings silence Dhoni’s critics?

I really pity Dhoni’s critics, that’s all I’ll say... Dhoni’s in the same bracket as Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. His contribution to Indian cricket has been that awesome. To repeat, Dhoni has done more than what many would do in a lifetime.

Virat Kohli got a hundred (107), while Sachin fell for 81...

Virat showed he’s a world-class batsman... Sachin’s innings was flawless.

The pressure on Sachin should be much less now, isn’t it?

Absolutely... He made that one error, that’s it.

Young Bhuvneshwar Kumar, in his debut Test, has shown so much maturity...

Besides such fine temperament, Kumar has shown he can hold a bat. Augurs well for India.

Is it, then, over for Australia in the first Test?

India are very much in the driver’s seat... There’s even a chance that the Test could end tomorrow (Monday), with a day to spare.

It should be all spin from India’s point of view...

From the start of Australia’s second innings, yes.

Finally... Could the way India batted on Sunday (333 runs, five wickets lost) actually have a bearing on the entire four-Test series, not merely in the first match?

It’s bound to... Not just the way Dhoni and the rest scored during the day, but the way India fought back from being two down for 12. The team showed character when it needed to.