The Telegraph
Monday , August 11 , 2014
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Lean patch will make Virat a better cricketer: Dhoni

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Manchester: Mahendra Singh focused on the positives during the media conference after England notched up an innings victory to take a 2-1 lead in the series, at Old Trafford on Saturday.


The defeat

The defeat will hurt us a lot. The reason being this was a good wicket… It doesn’t matter if you’ve lost the game in three days or five days… The first half an hour to 45 minutes were crucial, and that period took the game away from us. Still you can say that we didn’t bat well in the second innings but that was the taxing time. The reason behind playing two spinners is that we need to manage our resources. We need to look at our batsmen as well.

I feel Ashwin is someone who can score runs irrespective of where he is batting. So that gives us more confidence about putting some decent amount of runs on the board even if some of the top-order batsmen fail. As I said, if you play five bowlers, then one of them will be under bowled.

Batsmen struggling on a slightly quicker pitch

I personally never felt it was a quick wicket. It had a bit of bounce. Some of the other wickets were slightly tougher because of the variable bounce and bit of extra swing for the fast bowlers. This was one of the good wickets. Once you see off the first 20-25 overs when the ball is hard and new, it gets relatively better for the batsmen. You just have to pull the bowler towards you rather than going outside off and looking for the big shot. If you can look to push them to bowl to you, you can control the swing much better and you can play your strokes. That is something we lacked to an extent.

Virat Kohli’s poor form and Duncan Fletcher’s role

When it comes to technical knowledge of cricket, I think Duncan is the most experienced. He has been helping Virat a lot… Not only Virat, he has also been helping the other batsmen. We are talking about people who have been playing cricket for the last 12-13 years. Virat may be 23 or 24, but he has played cricket for some 14 years. So his basics are strong and it is tough to alter that in a few weeks or days. You may feel comfortable at nets… But once you go out in the middle, there is pressure on you and once you miss a few deliveries, the first thing you do is to go back to your basics. That’s your instinct.

It will take a bit of time. But as I’ve said, Virat is middling the ball well. But he is going through a lean patch. It is bound to happen sometimes… If not now, then may be six months down the line. He had a lovely 2-3 years scoring runs everywhere in all formats... So it’s something he has to go through and it will only make him a better cricketer. So it is not really disappointing for me. After this, we play a series against West Indies at home, then go to Australia and then there’s the 2015 World Cup. So it’s crucial.

Message to the batsmen

We are here talking about a set of batsmen well experienced, not necessarily in Test cricket… They have been part of the side for sometime and know what has to be done in each situation. We also tell them to break each session into small sessions of half-an-hour each and set small targets. That helps you to achieve what you want to... You need to break it into four or five overs and set a target. That’s the kind of spell bowlers go with — 5 or six overs. If you want to look at the positives, then all the batsmen have passed the tough phase when two bowlers were bowling well, and then they have got out. Most of them have scored 20 to 30 runs before getting out. So the most important part is to convert those starts into big scores.

Struggling against Moeen Ali

It is important to be positive. We will lose a few wickets. He is quite a consistent bowler. He keeps pitching in the same areas. He is quite good and uses the drift. At the same time we will have to put pressure back on him. If in doing that you lose a few wickets that is good… That pushes the opposition to use their fast bowlers more. That is something we will have to follow. Pujara got a tough decision, but he bowled well to get the others out.

On what Moeen has been doing differently from the Indian spinners

It is difficult thing to compare two batsmen or bowlers. Why can’t we copy him? It is a very difficult thing. He has his own trajectory. He keeps bowling in one area and is quite willing to bowl that way. Our bowlers are different. They have their own way of bowling. It is not easy to copy a bowler. He is very persistent with his lengths. The odd ball turns and the others are just straight. He wants to keep it very tight. And if you want to take him on, you can try your luck… otherwise he may get a wicket.

If it’s time to review Jadeja’s place

The problem is who do you have to replace him? Again you will fall back on the same thing of going in with an extra batsman and not having that fifth bowler when you really need him. That is how he plays. The more he plays the better he will get. We are hoping that it happens soon.

If the pace and bounce was a factor

Not really. Lord’s wicket was much greener on the very first day, which meant the juice was there till the third or fourth day… Then there was variable bounce, which made it more difficult for the batsmen. On that kind of a wicket our fast bowlers really have a very good chance because they can exploit the conditions. This wicket also I felt they bowled really well. We batted well at Lord’s. It was just the first hour of this Test match which I felt was crucial.

On what progress the team has been making despite the losses

You have to judge everything. And by everything I mean you also have to see the bowling performance. Last Test match we could not get enough wickets. The moment you don’t get enough wickets in a Test you can’t really win a Test match. You can only get a draw out of it... First few Test matches, the performance of our batsmen got camouflaged. Stuart (Binny) got runs in the first Test match along with Shami, Bhuvi and others. If you see that trend continued with the batting department. It is just that the lower-order did not contribute in this Test match, so it seems we have not scored runs. But the major improvement was the in the bowling department, where if there was some kind of assistance we got the opposition out which I feel is important to win a Test match.