Batsmen need to fire to prevent whitewash: Dhoni

MS Dhoni scored two half-centuries in the third Test, which India lost by an innings and 242 runs Getty Images

By Ashish Shukla

London: Aug 17, 2011

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said if a 4-0 whitewash against England is to be prevented, his batsmen will have to fire in the fourth and final Test starting on Thursday.

“First and foremost, we are a side known for our batting. Our priority would be to put runs on the board and thus apply pressure on the opposition line-up,” said Dhoni while reflecting on his team which has failed to put up 300 even once in the series.

India boast of a famed batting line-up which has the trio of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman who have over 100 Test centuries between them. Still, Dhoni believed it was paramount the openers fired in the Oval Test.

“We rely heavily on our openers. Whenever we’ve got a good start, our middle order has capitalised and put par total on the board,” he said at the pre-match press conference.

The best start India have managed in the series is 63 runs which left-hander Abhinav Mukund and Gautam Gambhir put on in the first Test at Lord’s last month.

Even the return of Virender Sehwag in the third Test at Edgbaston did not make a difference in India’s fortunes as the Delhi dasher was out to a king’s pair.

“Irrespective of where he is playing, what condition it is, Sehwag plays his own game. He backs himself to play his shots. Once in a while you get those games (but) he also helps us win more games,” said Dhoni.

Dhoni, inevitably, was asked how desperate he was to draw the game if winning was not possible at the Oval.

“That seems like a desperate approach. When you are desperate, you play below your potential. So it’s not good to worry about result. We will do the basics of breaking up the game in small sessions and doing well in them,” he said.

The Indian captain, who still sported his characteristic smiling countenance, was not willing to commit this England side as the best team he has ever faced.

“We’ve faced many good sides like South Africa and Australia. So I would keep my judgement (if this is the best side). But England are a very good side, they have four bowlers who are really good and very settled. They also bat deep,” Dhoni was quoted by PTI.

Dhoni said it was important that his team kept its perspective and looked at the future rather than press on the panic button.

“A few things in cricket are beyond control. We made the most of whatever resources we had. It’s important to look at the future, not to panic. We’ve been outplayed, whatever the reasons might be, but we need to look into the bright future we have,” he said.

He would not commit if pacer Praveen Kumar has recovered from the right thumb injury he suffered during the Edgbaston Test.

Praveen, meanwhile, turned up at the nets and bowled alongside Ishant Sharma, raising hopes of the Indian team that he may be available for the final Test.

R P Singh and Munaf Patel came on to bowl late and did not go flat out. Significantly, Sreesanth wasn’t seen or bowled at the nets. But as usual, there was no word from the team management.