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November 17, 2011
MS Dhoni has said he is more than satisfied with an inexperienced bowling attack that won the series against West Indies with a match to spare. He refused to be drawn on whether Varun Aaron, so impressive on his one-day debut against England, would be unleashed for the final Test which starts in Mumbai on November 22.
"We have been thinking about it," he said. "But it's too soon right now. We will see what needs to be done. We don't want to overuse the bowlers. We will think about it and do what's best for the side."
Without Zaheer Khan, who is easing back to full fitness, and the out-of-favour Harbhajan Singh, India won both Tests inside four days, and Dhoni said the bowling unit looked balanced. "The fast bowlers look very fresh which means they can bowl a lot of overs. The spinners are also fairly fresh and raring to go and have a bit more energy in the field. They back themselves, which is very important in Tests.
"In the last Test match [in Delhi], there was something in the pitch that favoured the bowlers. But in this Test, especially in the second innings, there was not much turn for them so they had to rely on flight and variations.
"Umesh [Yadav] is someone who can bowl really quick. But we will have to use him in the best possible manner so that he doesn't get injured. It's not always about bowling fast. You have to bowl in the right areas and build pressure. Overall, it's a balanced bowling attack."
The series win, albeit against opponents who have been poor travellers in recent times, had more resonance for a team that was drubbed 4-0 in England and which kept faith in most of its stalwarts. "England was a bad tour for us," Dhoni said. "There were several reasons why we did not do well there. It is always good to be on the winning side.
"Our batting did not do well in the first innings [of the series]. But after that we have shown improvement. Our fielding has been decent. It still has a long way to go if you compare it to the ODI squad."
The one grey spot in the performance at Eden Gardnes was Yuvraj Singh, whose unconvincing 25 resulted in more questions than answers. Virat Kohli waits in the wings, while Cheteshwar Pujara will be back in action in the next round of Ranji Trophy matches. Dhoni refused to comment on selection issues, but said: "At the end of the day, it's about scoring runs. It does not matter where you score runs. Yes, he [Yuvraj] is going through a tough phase but it's important to show confidence in him. We all know he is talented.
"One more reason is that he has been in and out of the side. It's very difficult to back yourself. You have that bit of tentativeness. It's a bit tough on him. But hopefully he will recover and do well for India."
Dhoni ended the England tour in impressive form and his displays in this series earned him the praise of Jeffrey Dujon, the great West Indies keeper from days gone by, who referred to him as an "excellent package", a term Dhoni though described him aptly.
"It's a big compliment for me. I am more of a package than a specialist. I'm neither an extraordinary batsman nor a specialist keeper. It's all about doing things right. It does not matter how you catch the ball, take the edges and affect stumpings. It's important to score at that point of time when it's really good for the side. I hope I will be a specialist one day."
This Eden Gardens victory was especially satisfying, Dhoni said, because the pitch didn't deteriorate markedly as the match wore on. "It was not a track where you can walk in and get the batsmen out. It was tough for the bowlers. In the first session on the third day, there was a bit of moisture and the spinners got a bit of turn.
"But after that, it turned out to be a flat wicket and continued to be from that point of time. If we had not dismissed them cheaply [in the first innings] then the match would not have ended this way. It was a very flat track. There was nothing really for the quicks or spinners, especially after the third morning.
"I'd definitely like to see pitches where it turns more and the spinners get bounce on a consistent basis. Because that's what India is known for. Hopefully we will be able to get those kinds of tracks."
India have never won every Test of a series against West Indies, and Dhoni - who insisted that he wouldn't skip the game - was taking nothing for granted ahead of the Mumbai Test. "We will have to see what kind of pitch we get there. West Indies are a good side. Their bowling line-up is quite good. It's not that they can't bat. As you have seen in the second innings, they have talented batsmen. We are expecting a tough third Test."
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