The Telegraph
Wednesday , February 19 , 2014
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Dhoni defends bowlers, again

- We did well in the series, says captain
Virat Kohli after reaching his century, in Wellington, on Tuesday. (Getty Images)

Wellington: India frittered away a golden chance of winning the second Test against New Zealand and squaring the series but captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni continued to defend his bowlers.

Having bundled out the Black Caps for 192 in the first innings and taking a 246-run lead, India looked like winning the second Test, especially after they reduced the hosts to 94 for five in their second innings.

However, the bowlers then failed to break the resolve of Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling. Dhoni, though, praised his bowlers and described the team’s performance “quite good”.

“In the first Test, our second innings was brilliant. And then we came here won the toss and bowled really well in the first innings. In the second innings also, we got a good start till Brendon and Watling came in. I don’t think it was bad bowling but it is just that they kept the good deliveries out,” the Indian captain explained.

“We appreciate what Brendon and Watling didů They soaked up the pressure when we were bowling well and scored freely once the bowlers were tired,” he said.

“We had to field for two-and-a-half days and I must appreciate the way the bowlers took the challenge. We tried our best in all fielding positions. We also tried three new balls to get them out. At times it works, at times it does not work.

“After that, you have to appreciate that at times, the opposition can also bat well. We don’t always have to put pressure on our bowlers and batters saying we batted badly or we bowled badly. It was fantastic to see how our bowlers bowled, they put in a lot of effort. At the end of the day, we will accept the result,” he added.

Asked whether the Indian bowlers lacked killer instinct, Dhoni said: “We were trying. It is very difficult to pinpoint one thing. To maintain pressure, it becomes very difficult with three fast bowlers and one spinner combination. But our fast bowlers were able to hit consistent line and length throughout.”

Summing up what has turned out to be a disastrous tour, where India failed to win a match, Dhoni said: “Overall, our performance has been quite good. We have been improving right from South Africa.

“We did well in the series, in this Test because we fought back pretty well ourselves. We bowled in the right areas, which I think is very important on the flat wickets,” he said.

Considering India’s defeats in ODI and Test series in South Africa, they have now lost back-to-back overseas tours. “In South Africa, we didn’t get much time to prepare.

“In the first Test we bowled well in the second innings to come back into the game. Then when we were batting we had a good partnership going but we lost wickets and that put pressure back on us. That’s an area where we need to improve. But if we compare to South Africa, there are a lot of positives to take home from this series,” Dhoni said.

In the long run it means a hard jog for India as they will tour England and Australia later this year. But there would be some respite as they will play in the Asia Cup and World T20 in Bangladesh, followed by the Indian Premier League.

“The IPL is actually a relief for us because that is when our season ends and we get a month’s break after playing all these tournaments. But even then it is important to remember what we have learnt from these two tours in South Africa and New Zealand, and gain from this exposure,” said Dhoni. (PTI)