The Telegraph
Friday , August 1 , 2014
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‘Hope batsmen capitalise on starts’

Southampton: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni feels that if the batsmen fritter away starts in the remaining two Test matches, it could be a bit of a concern for the visitors. India lost the third Test by 266 runs as England levelled the series 1-1.


The defeat

That’s what international cricket is all about. It was not like we were expecting them to win. We knew they would come back strongly. For us it was a challenge to keep the momentum going after Lord’s win. This Test showed some areas where we have to improve and that to win Test matches we need to take 20 wickets. But in this particular game we were not able to take even 10 wickets. That was a setback to a certain extent. I thought our batsmen played the fast bowlers better, but we allowed Moeen to bowl his line and length. There was considerable amount of wear and tear on the pitch that went his way… Their close-in fielding was also good. I just felt that we could have been a bit more positive against him.

Decision to go in with four bowlers

In the first couple of games we played with that extra bowler, who was part of the side. But we never really used him to that extent, giving him only 8 to 10 overs. That’s the reason we thought of making our batting stronger by getting Rohit in. At the same time, he could also give us those 8 to 10 overs or more. That was the thinking behind it, and we need to go back and think what’s needed to be done according to the wicket for the next two Test matches.

If deviating from the five-bowler strategy was a defensive plan

Then you should play eight bowlers in the next game... You also need to see the combination. You can have a third man and deep point, and that could be an aggressive option against someone like Sehwag… But for other batsmen it may not be so. It’s all about how you look at it. That was decided once we saw the wicket. We got to know about Ishant Sharma very late after practice in the evening.

Batsmen failing to capitalise on the starts

It will become a bit concern once it becomes repetitive. Let’s hope that it doesn’t become a habit. But the good thing is that the batsmen are getting good starts, and hopefully they will convert those starts into big innings. Getting a start is more difficult that converting starts. Hopefully, they will come back strong.

The openers’ performance

We are playing well but we are getting out at the wrong time. (Murali) Vijay is batting well at the moment, and Shikhar (Dhawan) is finding his tune now. It is not easy to come and score runs every time, you need to work hard sometimes for your runs. The English bowlers were bowling well, especially Anderson. They exactly know where to bowl, which line and length, in their home conditions. It will be a challenge for Shikhar to score runs here. In international cricket, the bowlers will try to find out your weak spot all the time. You need to learn to survive than try to score runs.

Rohit Sharma’s dismissal

You will go for your shots and get out at times. I am not really bothered about it because the attitude is more important. I think that’s why he tried to step out and play Mooen. But you also have to choose your timing because if you have 5 or 10 minutes remaining for tea or lunch then you need to slightly curb your instincts. But overall I am happy with the way he went out to play his shots.

Thoughts on the series

We have got our own concern and our own strengths. What I am looking at is a perfect, tough series. The first Test was a draw and then we won the second and England won here. Now, we have two more Tests to go. It’s a test of character for us, because we have not played a five-match series, but England have played five-match series earlier. So it will be a test of character for all of us and our fitness too.

Pacers’ performance

I think Bhuvi (Bhuvneswar Kumar) seemed to be a bit tired. But he came back nicely after that first spell. But I thought he was slightly on the shorter side. He got the right length in the first two Tests, but here he was slightly short.

Apart from that I am quite happy with the effort put in by the fast bowlers. It was a different kind of wicket, where you have to hit the deck hard to get some purchase. That’s where I found Pankaj (Singh) very impressive. He is a tall guy and got fair amount of bounce and was unlucky not to get a few wickets. Overall I am happy with him.

The slip catching

Definitely, we need to improve. But those three fielders standing at slips were three of the best we have got.

If he thinks the DRS should have been in use in the series

No. But there’s an interesting thing you know… There was a ball that clipped (Cheteshwar) Pujara’s inner thigh but it showed that the ball hit the stumps. The ball went to wicketkeeper and it didn’t touch the bails at all. So that’s show how accurate the DRS is.