England v India, 4th ODI, Edgbaston September 2, 2014

Dhoni pleased with 'complete' victory

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'We are a fantastic ODI team' - Dhoni

About three weeks ago the India players looked like they were being led to the gallows. Dispirited, just turning up to take their beating. No matter how ordinary England have been as an ODI side, the comeback, in spirit and in their minds, has been remarkable. This ODI series could easily have ended as an extension of the Tests. Losing can become a habit hard to kick. Sometimes when you lose as badly as they did - their opening stands over the last four Tests added up to 187, only a few more than Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan at Edgbaston - you become your own opposition.

India haven't, and they have improved every game. It needed an inspiring knock, which came from Suresh Raina, to start them off. Two matches later they played the near-perfect ODI. MS Dhoni thinks so, too. "The good thing is, we have kept improving from the first ODI on," he said. "That's definitely a big positive. It was a good toss to win today. The fast bowlers bowled really well initially and gave us those early breakthroughs, because of which we were able to put pressure on their middle order. Overall, I'm very happy. Jinks [Rahane] also got a century. We got an opening partnership. So a complete game for us."

When wins come about so easily for a team that failed to win a single game on their last two ODI tours, when the opposition is so clearly out of their league, it is well advised to not get lulled into a false sense of confidence. However, Dhoni won't have the sense of achievement questioned. He was asked after the match if he felt his side was pushed and tested enough by England, keeping in mind their previous two overseas series and with an eye on the World Cup. "How do you want us to be tested?" an unimpressed Dhoni shot back.

Dhoni went on to say they were not tested because they didn't let England test them. "That's what happens in cricket," Dhoni said. "At times, you get early breakthroughs and you think that your batting or bowling has not been tested. You only get tested when you don't get those breakthroughs. When you don't get those early wickets and then the wicket doesn't help you in middle overs, the spinners find it difficult to get wickets.

"We were not tested because our fast bowlers bowled well initially in the game. Where they didn't bowl well, the spinners took the responsibility. So on and off it was good. Batting, we have kept improving from the first game, which I feel is important. We will only see how much we will be tested. Testing is good, but you don't always want to be tested. You want to win games easily too, you don't always want to hang in until the 49th-50th over."

There had always been a fear that India will forget the Test debacle once they resume winning in the ODIs, or in Tests at home. This has been a strange old tour. India have been hopeless in the last three Tests, England even more so in the ODIs. When asked how much of a consolation this series win would be to India, Dhoni suggested Tests were a different universe, a universe he didn't want to travel to at the moment.

"It's not only that," Dhoni said. "It's not about consolation prizes. It's about winning the series. Once you have lost the Test series, there is no real point thinking about it, because it is done and dusted. With the World Cup coming up, it is very important we start doing well outside the subcontinent. We don't think about what happened in the Test series, and what will happen in the future series."

When you are having a tough tour, and when you are switching formats during that tough tour, this mindset can help arrest a slide. "We kept it simple," Dhoni said. "The change of format helps. The demands are very different. That to some extent eases the pressure."

This win was extra special for Dhoni. He has won the World Cup and Champions Trophy as a captain, but this ODI gave him an accumulative record too. It took him past Mohammad Azharuddin as India's most successful captain in ODIs. Dhoni took the moment to thank the players who have made it possible. "When I started leading the team, I got a fantastic team then, and I have got a fantastic side right now," Dhoni said. "There will be ups and downs, but thanks to everyone. Whoever I have played with. Without their contribution it wouldn't really have been possible. All the senior players I played with and who played under me, followed by the youngsters. I personally feel we are a very good, fantastic ODI side. And there will be ups and downs, but what is important is to keep the intent positive. Thanks to all the players."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RohanMarkJay on September 5, 2014, 10:17 GMT

    Congrats to MS Dhoni and the Indian team. I reckon this proves they should have done a lot better in the Test series. They are a good cricket team. Like MS Dhoni says, with the world cup coming up. ODI series was far more important than the test series. I reckon India will be a force in the world cup in Australia and New Zealand. I admit I like India they play this game in the right spirit, good luck and all the best to them I enjoy watching them.

  • hellraiser9 on September 4, 2014, 12:09 GMT

    Amazing how "some" so called arm chair critics come here and deride Dhoni and his achievements hiding behind their computer like keyboard warriors. Ravi shastri's presence no doubt made difference but to say that Ravi Shastri was the ONLY reason why india done well is pathetic and absurd.It is the PLAYERS who play ON the field not Ravi Shastri. Some people talk like Ravi shastri won the game for us. That is disgusting bcoz u r taking the toil away from players who with skill and talent performed on the field. Dhoni as a captain did amazing job in ODIs. Ravi Shastri's presence made sure that right team was selected which is good for supporters. Whether anyone likes it or not and Dhoni is the BEST ODI captain and T20 captain. Even in tests he has done his bit, too bad players didn't perform their roles properly. Batsmen floundered, bowlers couldnt take wickets. in last 3 matches. Dhoni has the personality to talk to his players, haters pls take hike or stop watching till Dhoni retires

  • dummy4fb on September 4, 2014, 10:25 GMT

    why don't we just concede that England are better than India in tests and India are better than England in one day and T20 cricket. Unfortunately, Test format does not have have a world cup, and does not deserve such a tournament .. so if england want to be content with their performance they can forget about getting the cup that matters... India -2 Australia -3 Windies -3 Pakistan -1 SL -1 Eng -0

  • espncricinfomobile on September 4, 2014, 8:06 GMT

    I bet if India's ODI and test ranking was reversed and they were winning tests instead of ODIs the comments on here would be a bit different. I am a fan of all three formats but there is no denying that the shorter the format the more of a coin toss it is. Test cricket allows the best teams to have an off day or a couple of bad session and still win or draw. Cricket in its true form is test cricket

  • BackStreetBowler on September 4, 2014, 7:19 GMT

    Good to see India dominate the version that really matters. Though most people commenting here might not concede it, Test cricket is going the way of the Dodo.

    I have been watching cricket for nearly 35 years now. I haven't met anyone who has seen a test match for more than 10 minutes at a time recently. The only ones who seem to catch every minute are either the commentators or the portly old gentlemen one sees on English grounds.

    Only ODIs and T20s really matter. I think India is wise in not trying to invest heavily into building test teams. The death knell cometh for test cricket soon.

  • sal7 on September 4, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    @MiddleStump- You are basically saying Tests are the real test of batting. By the same logic, ODIs are the real test of bowling. You see, it doesn't matter WHAT the rules are in ODIs. They are the same for BOTH teams, hence the spirit of competition is alive and well, and that is all that matters. The better team will win. The same people who find the shorter format more interesting and tests boring are obviously the ones who believe the shorter format is the evolution of cricket, not a contrivance.

  • dummy4fb on September 4, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    India win because English selector puting same set of plyers in odi too.If u have no option than its fine but if u have option than its called blunder.Cook is not aggressive captain. Why English selector would not picking Bopara,Owais shah and samit patil evenly tremlet in the one day squad .Bopara is a excellent middle order player.He has both Technic,he will play both defensive and attacking game same story about shah after England loss trott for some reason he is the best replacement.He has attacking technic and both players can bowl bit of medium pace with tight line and length.But most important thing is they are first batter than bowler.So my playing 11 of fourth one day is bell(captain),moin ali,Morgan,Bopara,shah/root,butler,hales,tradewell,bresnan/tremlet finn and aderson.if morgan is out of form so i give option to morgan to go number3 and play shots.

  • dummy4fb on September 4, 2014, 5:37 GMT

    Nice to see india wining a series in overseas. But, current England team is not so great in ODI. Especially batting lineup. I hope we cant forget recently concluded ODI's (SA & NZ). We have to wait for Australia series to know exact performance of india. Rahena can open the game with M Vijay. I hope Dhawan also not capable to do open. Changing the captaincy before WC 2015, will not be sensible. I think next captain should be R Ashwin. He is great in all format. He knows what and how to execute the plan at difficult sutivation and more passion than Kholi. I am yuvi should return back to team with his full strength. No one can replace him.

  • PomarJagadish on September 4, 2014, 5:37 GMT

    The way which they won shows n speaks about the ODI team....Without Dhoni n Virat firing we are getting these sought of victories....Guess if they show their mettle how it would be......

    I strongly agree India are top contenders..India should go with their strength(6bt+2 spinnin all rounders+3 Fast bowlers) in Australia tooo rather than fitting Binny in mix of things and disturbing the momentum n combinations.....

    Dhawan...Rahane....Virat....Rohit....Raina....Dhoni.

    This are World class players in this ODI Format especially n have Jaddu n Ash to Support them in Slog overs if needed...

    Keep Wickets in hand till 30 n double the sore there after is the Mantra of this Indian Team and Should be the Mantra going ahead into WC2015

  • MiddleStump on September 4, 2014, 4:12 GMT

    @salil247. Taking nothing away from an excellent performance by India in the ODI. But there is a little bit more than personal opinion when it comes to the different formats of cricket. The objective fact is that the shorter formats are derived from the Test format, not the other way round. The shorter formats suppress the skill of bowlers in many ways. By limiting the number of overs any bowler can bowl, by placing restrictions on how many fielders can stand where at different stages of the match, by limiting the size of the boundaries etc etc. Let us face it, if we place enough restrictions on bowlers and fielders, even our grandma can score a few runs. Those with the most skills in bowling, suffer the most with these restrictions. Some may find the shorter format more interesting and tests to be boring. That is indeed a personal preference. But there is no doubt that the shorter format is a contrived sport.

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