India’s captain cool, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, achieved another milestone when Team India registered historic 63-run win over West Indies in the 1st Test on Thursday.
Dhoni has crossed Mohammed Azharuddin’s mark of 14 victories and only Sourav Ganguly, with 21, has more wins in Tests as skipper.
This is also the first time that India has won the opening Test of a series in the Caribbean.
Dhoni also showered praise on youngsters, who took the responsibility and played a crucial role in the team’s 63-run win in the absence of senior players.
While veteran Rahul Dravid’s match winning 122 was the highlight of the match, youngsters like Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh played crucial knocks in the first innings to bail India out from 85 for six.
Debutant medium pacers Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma picked up six wickets each while leg spinner Amit Mishra, who had a match haul of four for 113, ably supported Dravid with a valiant 28 in the second innings.
“We missed quite a few key players in this Test match, which meant somebody had to take the responsibility and I’m glad the team took up the responsibility for the way we performed. At one stage, we were 85 for 6 in the first innings but you know again the lower order contribution was there. Suresh Raina batted really well with Harbhajan Singh and the rest of the tail contributed,” said Dhoni.
“I think we have done really well over the last two years or so with the lower-order contribution and at the same time, part-timers getting wickets when it’s needed. I think this was a perfect example. We thought maybe we’ll end up getting 150 or 200-odd runs but we ended up getting some more runs because of which we were able to get a few more runs as lead and we ended up getting over 250 runs,” he added.
Dhoni praised former India captain’s 32nd Test ton that helped India set up a target of 313 for the West Indies.
“Rahul, as you know, is an exceptional batsman. Very patient. He got 100 in 250 balls, which means you have to be very patient and push the bowlers to bowl in your areas and to your strengths. And I think that’s what he did. He was patient for a long time and waited for the bowlers to bowl in his areas. That has been the pick of his innings. Not only in this one, but whatever innings he plays you know he just waits for the bowlers to pitch it in his areas. I think he was brilliant as usual,” he said.
Dhoni also had words of praise for the street-smart Praveen.
“Praveen, as we all know, is a skilful bowler. He can swing the ball both ways and he is not someone who is up with the pace, he doesn’t bowl 140-plus but he can definitely swing the ball and put the ball in the right areas, which means that he can confuse the batsmen as to play it or to leave it … It was not a wicket which was swinging a lot or seaming a lot. Of course, you know Praveen can swing the ball in any sort of conditions. He was brilliant. He bowled in the right areas. And that was the main reason why he got wickets in both the innings,” he said.
Dhoni also said that his boys are trying to improve their skills against handling short-picthed delivery.
“A lot has been spoken about the short stuff and everything. But if you want to do well at the international level, you have to consistently face it. And you have to adapt yourself to the conditions. You might not be the best player of fast bowling or short-pitched deliveries, but you have to negotiate it. If you are not getting out to the short delivery, then it is fair enough. It doesn’t really matter whether you look elegant or not. It’s all about scoring runs.”
“That’s where I think that if you are enjoying your cricket, then it helps you to perform better and you get into positions where you can negotiate the bounce well. That is one area where the youngsters are trying to improve. I think because when the other countries when they come to India, they see turn and bounce for the spinners and most of them struggle,” Dhoni said.