Southampton, Jul 31: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni feels that if the batsmen fritter away starts in the remaining two Test matches, it could be a bit of a concern for the visitors. On a track where England piled up 569 for seven, India scored 330 and 178 in their two innings.
“It will become a bit of concern once it becomes repetitive. Let’s hope that it doesn’t become a habit,” Dhoni told the mediapersons when asked about some of the batsmen throwing away their wickets after getting a start. “But the good thing is that the batsmen are getting good starts, and hopefully they will convert those starts into big innings. Getting start is more difficult that converting starts. Hopefully, they will come back strong,” the skipper said.
Dhoni also admitted that his batsmen didn’t play off-spiner Moeen Ali that well. “We weren’t expecting them to win but that’s what international cricket is all about. We knew they will come back strongly at us, and for us also it was a new challenge is to keep the momentum going after the Lord’s win,” said Dhoni, lamenting his side’s failure to bat well on a placid track.
“Our batsmen played the fast bowlers better but we allowed Moeen (Ali) to bowl his line and length. There was considerable amount of wear and tear on the pitch that went his way, and there were a lot of close-in fielders too. I just felt that we could have been a bit more positive against him,” he added.
From the very beginning, India looked out of sorts in this Test as if fatigue of back-to-back matches had caught up with the team. The bowlers looked tired, fielders dropped important catches and of course they missed a fifth bowler having gone in with seven batsmen this time around. “This Test showed some areas where we have to improve and to win Test matches we need to take 20 wickets. But in this particular game we were not able to take even 10 wickets, and that was a setback to a certain extent,” said Dhoni, when asked of his decision to drop the extra bowler in Stuart Binny.”In the first couple of games we played with that extra bowler. But we never really used him to that extent, giving him only 8 to 10 overs. That’s the reason we thought of making our batting stronger by getting Rohit (Sharma) in. “At the same time, he could also give us those 8 to 10 overs or more. That was the thinking behind it, and we need to go back and think what’s needed according to the pitches for the next two Test matches,” he added.When particularly asked about the missed catches, Dhoni replied,”Those three in the slip cordon currently are three of the best we have got. But definitely we need to improve.”Talking of the unlucky debutant Pankaj Singh, who recorded figures of 0-179 in two innings, Dhoni said,”It was a different kind of wicket, where you have to hit the deck hard to get some purchase. That’s where I found Pankaj very impressive. He is a tall guy and got fair amount of bounce and was unlucky not to get a few wickets. Overall I am happy with him.”
The series is now pegged at 1-1 with two matches to go. India’s problems have been compounded by Dhoni’s revelation that Ishant Sharma perhaps won’t be fit for the fourth Test in Manchester starting August 7. “We have got our own concern and our own strengths. What I am looking at is a perfect, tough series. The first Test was a draw and then we won the second and England won here.
“Now, we have two more Tests to go. We have not played a five-match series, but England have. So it will be a test of character for all of us and our fitness as well,” Dhoni signed off.