Give Tests to venues that care - Dhoni
MS Dhoni has asked for Tests to be played at venues that have a history of supporting the format with big attendances, and has appreciated the support received from the Bangalore crowd during the course of India's victory against Australia. Of India's 10 Test venues - Hyderabad being the newest - Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Mohali and to an extent Delhi are known for their lukewarm response to Test cricket.
"Maybe some of these centres where people come up to see Test matches can be given preference over some other centres where people don't come in large numbers to watch Test matches," Dhoni said. "After all, if taken in the right sense, we are the performers in the circus, but you need the circus to be full. It [this comment] should be taken in the right sense."
Dhoni and his men liked what they saw in Bangalore. Three of the days - the weekend and the final day - were almost sold out. "It really helps the players who are on the field," Dhoni said. "Frankly speaking, in the 45th or 50th over, when the fast bowler comes for his second or third spell, it's the crowd that gets him going, apart from the fact that he is supposed to do well for the team and the country. You need some kind of a motivation, and especially because we're used to playing IPL and ODIs in front of 30000 or 40000 or 50000 people, you want that kind of a crowd."
Throughout the last five days, the spectators have been India's 12th man. They cheered every special effort by the Indians, appealed when the bowler appealed, got off their seats when Sachin Tendulkar and other batsmen played good strokes, and appreciated every good effort by the fielders. Some of them booed the Australians, but many were appreciative.
"It was a remarkable crowd," Dhoni said. "Throughout the five days there were good crowds, and on the final day it was literally house full. You could see as many people in the stands as in a Twenty20 or ODI match. They supported good cricket more than anything else."
They did get their money's worth. Not only did they watch their home side complete a clean sweep against Australia, they saw Tendulkar go level with Virender Sehwag as the Indian with the most double-centuries; they saw Cheteshwar Pujara, the debutant, play an innings he wouldn't mind as his epitaph; they saw M Vijay, a stylish batsman, add substance to his game at Test level; they saw Ricky Ponting bat beautifully but fall disappointingly short; they saw Zaheer Khan and Ben Hilfenhaus create wickets on flat pitches. The Indian team thanked the crowd with a deserved lap of the ground.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo