|Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowls at the nets as Ishant Sharma looks on, in Southampton, on Saturday. (Getty Images)
Southampton: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is not ready to harp on the fact that the visitors are leading the five-match series 1-0. Instead, he is focusing on the “small things”.
On the eve of the third Test, Dhoni, at a media conference, stressed that a 1-0 lead is not a big one in a five-game series.
The following are excerpts
On the team combination
No, we will see and do accordingly… I know there is a famous saying ‘why fix something when it is not broken’… But you have to realise that others are trying to catch up with you when you are doing well…
So the important thing is that we will see the wicket and decide what’s the best combination is. We will have to see the moisture level in the pitch before the game because it has been quite hot this summer in England. We will decide the team accordingly.
If playing five bowlers is an option
We have played with five bowlers sometimes… I think that was when Irfan (Pathan) was with us. When you play with five bowlers, the one thing is you won’t use that bowler too much as compared to the rest of the bowlers. It is more like a reserve battery. When there is a long partnership, that bowler is fresh and can put in a strong effort.
You can rest your main bowlers, keeping them fresh for the second new ball if you have bowled 160 overs. Also, if your spinner gets some extra purchase, then you don’t really require the fifth bowler because your spinner can bowl long spells. If the spinner can keep one end tight, then it is better to attack with three main bowlers.
The importance of the third Test
I have never played a five-match series, so I don’t know whether the third one is important or not… Every scenario is important and you have to take one game at a time… You don’t look too much ahead.
The focus is more on the small things. We are not thinking whether it is the third or the fourth or the fifth Test of the series... That will help to stay focused on the upcoming match and not look too far ahead. We also never think too much about the past. What we do is to learn from the games that we play and take the positives out of them. Staying in the present is important.
On India having the lead
I feel that in a five-match series, a 1-0 lead is not big… What’s crucial is to pick the right team and move forward. We are not thinking about any tag line this time... We need to pick the right team and for that we need to judge the nature of the wicket. We are focusing on all these areas at this time. That’s where the process becomes important, because you still have not got players who play Test cricket regularly, and that’s where you get the experience.
You might play as many one-dayers as possible, but the demands of Test cricket are different. So in a way, it is good that we have only players who have played a handful of games and we need to get the maximum out of them. Fortunately, the commitment part is good and they have taken and managed impressive levels of workload.
Significance of having Ravindra Jadeja in the team
The more he plays the better he gets, and that’s the psychology. He has got a lot of talent, and he gets wickets or runs when he remains in his natural self. The way he played in the last Test will give a lot of confidence not only in this series, but for the rest of the Test matches that he will play in his career. His presence also gives the liberty of playing another bowler, because he keeps it tight irrespective of whether the ball is turning or not. So that gives ample rest to the other bowlers. He’s a vital instrument in our line-up as of now.
On Murali Vijay as an opener
He has left the ball well in this series… That is very crucial as an opener. At the same time, he has been positive, he has driven the ball well and played his shots well. It will be important for him to continue to exploit those chances and bat without thinking too much about the runs. He needs to stay in the present and adapt to the wicket given to him on that particular day and move forward gradually.
I don’t really comment on the opposition… But pressure comes hand-in-hand with international cricket, whether you are in good form or not. Form is an abstract. It can discard you in five deliveries or get that back in five deliveries.