The Telegraph
Monday , August 18 , 2014
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‘We never really competed’

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, after India’s loss

London: Whatever laurels were earned by the impressive victory at Lord’s, were wiped clean by three consecutive losses thereafter. The worst came on Sunday when India surrendered to an innings and 244-run defeat, thereby losing the series 1-3.

But captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni doesn’t think this series was the lowest point for India. For him, it’s the 2011 humiliation. His logic: India had a far better team at that time.

“I think 2011 was the lowest… Because we had the resources in that team and yet we had failed. It’s very difficult for me to answer why exactly are we not lasting more than one session… It can be any of the lots of reasons. The batting form kept sliding and we were never really able to accumulate the runs to compete in the game. We never really competed,” Dhoni said at the post-match media conference.

When someone went to the extent of asking him whether he would resign after this loss, Dhoni said: “Well, you will have to wait and watch. I was asked the same question in 2011… You will have to wait and watch if I am strong enough… If I am not strong enough, you will get the news.”

Leading 1-0 and then losing 1-3… Could someone like (mental conditioning coach) Paddy Upton helped? “Difficult to say… But when he was with the team, it was a great pleasure to work with him. Whether he would have had an impact in this series and in the current scenario or not, it’s very difficult to say,” Dhoni replied.

Dhoni stressed that it’s important to remember the lessons learnt from this series for future reference. “It was a long series… After 2nd or 3rd Test, I realised that it is important to give rest to the bowlers. There are many things that we have learnt, but we have to keep the learnings in our mind… Especially when we go overseas, we have to keep practising those things and be prepared,” he said.

With the Indians finding it difficult to deal with the English conditions, Dhoni was asked if playing County cricket would help. “There are only a few players who can play County cricket… The others will be busy. It has helped other players in the past, so it’s definitely something we can look into… But it will be difficult to fit it in.”

Dhoni, however, didn’t give a clear reply to the question whether IPL is to blame for the poor performance of the Indians. “Ask the BCCI about that… Don’t get jealous of IPL.”

Dhoni thinks the mental aspect comes before the technical factor for the batsmen. “The mental thing comes before the technical aspect… Changes cannot be implemented in seven days’ time… You have to back yourselves. You have to have the mental strength to know the areas where you may be vulnerable. It always helps to know where the off-stump is.”

The Indian captain was happy with his bowlers and said that Ishant Sharma has improved a lot. “Ishant has improved a lot. He keeps hitting the same areas and is patient with his line and length and he can attack also. Hopefully, we don’t have too many injuries to this set of bowlers.”

He was, however, critical of the batsmen. “It’s a reflection of the batting order that has not done well. If you are playing with six batsmen, including the ’keeper, it makes it a bit tough if you lose too many wickets upfront. When the lower order scored runs, we made 300-plus total and once they too got out cheaply then we struggled to put runs on the board. We are disappointed that we couldn’t offer any fight in the last three Test matches. Hopefully, they will take the positives out of this defeat.”

Meanwhile, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was adjudged the Man of Series from the Indian side, said: “It’s tough when you lose a series. But what’s important is what you learn from the series. It was a good experience playing here and I hope I’ll put this experience to good use in future.”