MS Dhoni saved India from the blushes with a gritty knock of 82 © Getty Images
By Chetan Narula
London: Aug 15, 2014
India‘s continued batting failure, notwithstanding, fielding coach Trevor Penney defended the under-performing willow-wielders, saying the visitors had to encounter tough conditions after losing the toss on the opening day of the fifth and final Test against England.
Put into bat on overcast conditions, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni waged a lone battle with a gutsy 82 as England bundled out India for a paltry 148 in their first innings at a seaming Oval. Penney feels English bowlers simply utilised the conditions to perfection unlike Indian bowling department.
“It was a good toss to win and the English guys bowled well,” Penney said at the post-day’s press conference.
“The first session was crucial. It was a good toss to lose in the last match and today it was the other way round.
That’s how it has played out in these last two matches.
“I think the batsmen did well because the conditions were quite tough out there. Unfortunately we were not able to do the same with the ball and hopefully tomorrow will be different,” he said.
Apart from Dhoni, only two other Indian batsmen — Murali Vijay (18) and Ravichandran Ashwin (13) — reached double-digits scores.
On the batting front, India have really gone down like a pack of cards for three Tests running now. It started in Southampton and then carried over to Manchester and has now repeated itself in London.
“In the first two Tests, we scored runs. The batsmen got in and scored in both those matches. But in the last two matches we have struggled a bit and perhaps that is because England have been bowling better and a lot fuller,” Penney said.
“It is definitely not something to do with the pitch. Yes there was movement here and also at Old Trafford but we negotiated a green top at Lord’s and managed to win that game,” he said.
If not for Dhoni and his 58-run last-wicket stand with Ishant Sharma (7 not out), India might not have even crossed the 100-run mark as they were reeling at 44 for six at one stage.
“Dhoni had a great day in the field and he batted well out there. His innings was a crucial one and it helped us get some runs on the board,” said Penney.
Asked if the Indian captain had got his team selection right and if there were any regrets over not playing a seventh batsman, Penney replied: “No, we believe that we have got the right playing eleven.”
The prolonged poor form of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, who scored just 10 runs between them, have hit India hard in this series.
But Penney denied that there was something wrong with the technique of the two struggling batsmen.
“No it is not at all that. At this stage we want our batsmen to be positive because they are doing the right things, just the runs haven’t come. So we will be looking to turn things around in the second innings,” he said.
Catch all the coverage of India’s tour to England here