Australia v India, 4th Test, Adelaide January 22, 2008

No rift in the side - Dhoni

Mahendra Singh Dhoni said that not letting Australia beat them comfortably had been a moral victory for India © AFP

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India's vice-captain, says his bowlers did well to exploit Australia's frailties against swing and feels his side achieved a moral victory by competing on equal terms with the opposition. India's trio of medium-pacers played a big role at Perth, snaring 14 off the 20 wickets with Irfan Pathan earning the Man-of-the-Match award.

"Australians play fast bowlers well and the only area you can really trouble them is swing bowling," Dhoni said two days before the Adelaide match. "Our bowlers have bowled consistently and encouraged the batsmen to go for the drive. We're getting the breakthroughs at the right times.

"It's a moral victory, coming to Australia and not letting them beat us comfortably," he said off the series so far, despite India trailing 2-1. "We have been playing tough cricket for the last one month. It's good for the team's morale and everyone who has been part of the side. It's a very happy unit we have at the moment. There is enough pressure just by playing for India and so it's very important that you enjoy your game."

Dhoni didn't wish to answer questions on the friction in the side, despite reports suggesting that Sourav Ganguly's exclusion from the one-day side had caused a rift. "I think it has affected journalists more than it has us," he said. "We are back in the practice session, we trained in the morning. It has not affected us anyway."

What had he learnt from Anil Kumble, having been his understudy for the last two series? "What Anil has stressed is that there should be a lot of communication between us. If somebody hasn't been picked for the side you have to go there and convey it to him.

"There shouldn't be any gap between the player and the captain. He is very clear what he is expecting from the players. As a captain, I believe and go by instinct. It isn't as if I don't plan, I make it very clear to the bowlers because it's ultimately they who would bowl according to the field."

Dhoni may not have set the series afire but he has played a couple of vital hands in Sydney and Perth. Both have been largely restrained knocks, ones where he has shelved his characteristic flamboyance. "Generally, they have tended to bowl quite outside the off stump to me," he said. "Only Stuart Clark looks to bowl an off-stump line, otherwise the rest want you to chase the ball, if it's not moving a great deal. When you get in, you don't want to chase the ball outside the off stump. That's what I followed in England in other Tests too."

His wicketkeeping, though, has improved considerably since the tour to England last year, one where he was being troubled by the ball swinging after passing the batsman. "There hasn't been any change in the way I keep. Only, here in Australia, you get more time to react to the nick. In India if Zaheer Khan is bowling at 140kph, you are still standing only 12 yards away from the stumps. As for keeping to the spinners, Anil bhai most of the time makes the batsmen play. You are behind to gather the one ball which would make the difference. So it makes it easier."

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo