By Philem Dipak Singh
New Delhi: Nov 9, 2011
It was not a perfect start to series despite a comprehensive victory in the first Test, according to Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who said the triumph could have been more satisfying had his batsmen shown more application in the first innings.
Dhoni savoured the win but said had they batted well in the first innings, he would have said without any hestitation that it was a perfect start to the series against West Indies.
All India could manage was just 209 in the first innings and consequently conceded a 95-run lead but came from behind to win the match with almost one-and-a-half day to spare.
"If we had the first innings lead it would have been a perfect start to the series. We did not do well in the first innings. If our batsmen see how they were out in the first innings they would think that they should not have been out and done much better. Considering the difficult pitch, a bit of application from the batsmen should have helped," Dhoni said at the post-match press conference.
Dhoni also insisted that the much-criticised Kotla pitch was not a bad one but a surface "difficult in its own way".
"Venue-wise, historically Kotla has been a difficult track but I don't think it was a bad wicket. It's a typical Kotla track which favours spin more. It's slow and low and difficult to score. It's difficult in its own way. I hope Kolkata will be different," he said.
"There was nothing much for the batsmen as well as bowlers. Batsmen will have to work hard for runs while bowlers will have to be patient and bowl at right areas consistently."
"It's different from earlier tracks in only way that there was a bit of grass. On the third day you can see grass roots and it showed that the track would not break down," said Dhoni.
Dhoni praised his young bowlers for their good show in the match, besides the efforts of Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Tendulkar and VVS Laxman.
"Despite the difficult pitch, the bowlers took their opportunities. Pragyan Ojha did well and Ravichandran Ashwin got nine wickets on his debut. Umesh Yadav improved in the second innings though he has a tendency to bowl a fraction of short deleveries. He will learn as he plays more games.
"Ashwin won Man of the Match in his debut. He had the variations and flighted the ball well. He used his carrom ball and top-spinners well.
"Sehwag and Gambhir gave a good start in the first innings and did the same in the second innings. The middle order played well in the second innings and we won," he said.
Asked specifically about Umesh Yadav, Dhoni said, "He clocked above 135km per hour consistently and its good to have a bowler of that speed. He will learn more as he plays more international cricket."
Dhoni said as a captain he did not know what to expect from the two debutants Ashwin and Umesh.
"We know what we can expect from Ojha and Ishant but not about Ashwin and Umesh Yadav. So it was a bit difficult," said Dhoni when asked about playing without strike bowler Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh.
Asked about chances of Harbhajan coming back now that Ojha and Ashwin are doing well, Dhoni said, "Let's see. Ojha did well and Ashwin won Man of the Match in his debut match."
Dhoni refused to comment on former India coach Greg Chappell describing him his go-to man in the team in the latter's book in which the Australian has also criticised Sourav Ganguly.
"We are occupied with what we are doing right now as a team," was Dhoni's cryptic reply when asked about Chappell's comment.
Dhoni on Monday became the first Indian wicketkeeper to record 200 dismissals, surpassing Syed Kirmani. He gave credit for his improvement to keeping against Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
"I was not that good when I started my career as a wicketkeeper. I started keeping for Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh bowling. When Anil bowls his leg-spin at the rough on Indian wickets you know it is like leaving it to god.
"I have improved a lot since then. Maybe because I started keeping against Anil and Bhajji but its a long way to go. Records do not matter much. Hopefully I remain out of major injuries. If the injuries are minor it does not create much of a problem," he said. (PTI)