India v West Indies, 3rd Test, Mumbai, 5th day November 26, 2011

Lost wickets at the wrong time - Dhoni

ESPNcricinfo staff

MS Dhoni has said that losing wickets "at the wrong time" prevented India from successfully chasing down 243 in Mumbai.

India had bowled West Indies out for 134 in a dramatic first session, in which eight wickets fell for 43 runs. That left them 243 to get in 64 overs, but playing shots on the fifth-day wicket was difficult, according to Dhoni. "Most of our dismissals were at the wrong time," he said. "Some kind of partnerships were going on [and] we lost a wicket. That put pressure back on us.

"Most of the batsmen who got out were the ones who were playing shots. I won't say it was very easy. It was quite easy to stay at the wicket, but difficult to score runs. A few of us thought that if we can rotate strike and look for those singles, it will become a bit easy as the game progresses. But that [attempted singles] really went to the fielders and added more pressure."

The track offered assistance for both spinners and fast bowlers, Dhoni said. "I think there was bit of bounce for the bowlers, particularly the spinners. For the fast bowlers, the ball stopped. Once you looked to play a shot you had to be really careful, as you had to be to the pitch of the ball. If not, then you got out [caught] in the covers or midwicket."

With West Indies 81 for 2 overnight, the possibility of a win had seemed remote at the start of the day but R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha ran through the West Indies line-up in under two hours. Dhoni said his team had kept in mind the importance of picking up wickets in the first hour. "If you don't get wickets in the first hour, the more runs they add means we will get less time to chase. But the bowlers bowled really well. We were able to get a good number of wickets and got them all out before lunch. That gave us the opportunity to chase down the target.

"We never started thinking [of] it as a draw. We tried to create a bit of panic [while bowling] and I think most of the time we were able to put pressure on them. That was one of the main reasons we were successful in the first session."

Dhoni was satisfied with the performance of his bowling attack in the series. Though the spinners picked up the bulk of the wickets, Dhoni also praised Ishant Sharma, who he felt created consistent pressure that was not reflected in his series' return of five wickets at 67.40. "You have seen plenty of times that when bowlers [are] bowling well, the batsman doesn't edge to the slips and when edges come there is no slip fielder or [it falls] short of the fielder. He [Ishant] was consistently bowling well and he was coming up, with regards to the pace, and he was bowling in the right areas. I was happy overall [with] the way he bowled."

Apart from Ishant and Ojha, India's bowlers - Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav and Ashwin - were in their debut series. Despite their inexperience, they managed to do what was needed, Dhoni said. "There will come a time when senior players will retire and [there is] no point putting pressure on youngsters [saying] 'will they able to get as many as wickets as [Anil] Kumble or Harbhajan [Singh] did?' They bowled well. There was nothing for them [in the pitches] but they did not let the opposition [get away] freely. There was not much turn for them. They had to keep it tight at the same time. Overall, very happy [with the way] they bowled throughout the series."

Ashwin took 22 wickets in the series to finish the top wicket-taker, and also performed with the bat, scoring his maiden Test century in Mumbai. Dhoni said Ashwin's primary responsibility in the side, though, was as a bowler. "Let him take wickets. That is the main priority. If he scores runs that is a bonus for our side. Don't put [extra] pressure on him."

With two half-centuries in the match, Virat Kohli displayed his potential, but could not push on to get a hundred. Despite being well-set on 63, he cut a short and wide delivery to gully with India only 19 runs away from victory. Dhoni said that this was a learning phase in Kohli's career and something that would help his game in the future. "You learn a lot from these games, so the next time he is in the same situation he may bat in a different way.

"Even the most experienced players tend to make these types of mistakes. There is nothing to worry about; if you learn from each and every game, that really improves you as a cricketer. I am hoping he [Kohli] learns a lot [from this match]."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on November 28, 2011, 15:56 GMT

    @ All who are blaming Ashwin...I have mixed reactions to it...I am very happy that ASHWIN blocked the penultimate ball thereby assuring d fact that India doesn't lose the test match...but the fact that he ran the 1st run so slowly could have cost us the match...I AGREE there was no 2 in tat shot...but had he run d FIRST run hard, it would hav put pressure on the fielder resulting in a misfield or a wayward throw...tat's nli FAULT with ASHWIN...but knowing him personally, he s a poor runner...he s bad even in the FREE!!! :)

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on November 28, 2011, 14:51 GMT

    @Karthik Raja, let me clear it. I have no problem if Kohli goes for 100 or commentators keep mentioning it. I was responding to TRAM who seems to have an objection for records in this context. Well, if the entire world can keep bragging about Bradman's greatness, courtesy his records, how does it all of a sudden become a sin if we go after them? Nah mate! not all of Sachin's runs are useless. I agree with your concept that if you push towards a century that will make sure that the team wins. Imagine now, the pressure/push towards Sachin's century. Instead of that milestone getting materialised, the team balance is suffering because of the pressure from media and the inner desire that Sachin ALSO HAS. Sachin himself is lying to everybody that he doesn't think about it. I mean, it is humanly impossible to not to think of a UNIQUE milestone or any milestone, for that matter. He just needs to admit that he is thinking about it and that is effecting his batting and anxiety levels. Peace :)

  • dummy4fb on November 28, 2011, 10:14 GMT

    Blaming Ashwin is brainless.. He very well made sure that India cant lose this match.. And there was no second run on that last ball shot.. @ the end, all is well.. atleast for the sake of this young WI team.. Ind can take this draw very easily.. Bt, losing the match after scoring nearly 600 would hv hurt the confidence of WI team.. Hence, as I said.. ALL IS WELL.. @TRAM, Nampally and Dravid_G, Well, thats not "RECORD ADDICTION". Same kinda statement wud hv been there even if he had scored a century and still India lost.. They would hv said, "Kohli didnt carry on to make it BIG".. So, its not really abt records.. Its about carrying on the momentum.. If he had pushed for 100, the Team would hv won.. Ideally that should be the case.. If a player scores big, there r more chances for his team to win.. However u don't seem to agree with this statement.. Esp u Dravid_G.. :)) Since u r one of very few who keep on saying Sachin's runs r all useless.. Good day mates..

  • dummy4fb on November 28, 2011, 7:33 GMT

    @moBlue. You are right on the dot. It is the top order which failed. And it was their primary job to get runs. Hope, Dhoni regains his batting form before the team leaves for Australia. If at all anyone who brought India to the brink of victory, it was Ashwin, Ojha, & Kohli. Even Kohli's getting out was a result of his trying to up the run rate. The inexperienced test partnership of Kohli & Ashwin which made the best efforts to get the runs. So, Dear Dhoni, don't talk about younsters' learning from thier mistakes. P.S. Also hope that the dashing Delhi duo will get an opportunity -- through the 5 ODIs -- to get their act straight

  • on November 28, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    @Bang_La. I just where were you in the first too matches...LOL

  • dummy4fb on November 28, 2011, 4:12 GMT

    Rather than the failure of many, only its failure of SRT,Dhoni & Gauti in the last innings that cost the match. Its clearly evident that SRT is looking for 100th ton more than team's win. Dhoni failed in both the innings and now telling lame excuses. There is nothing mistake with Ashwin as he ensured India dint lose the game. With last 2 balls left, if Ashwin had got out going for a heave, and Ohja got out of the last ball of the game , India would have lost and every one would have blamed tail enders for not winning the game. Every one should remember that its Ohja & Ashwin who are the main reasons for making India to come close to a win. Sehwag,Kohli,Rahul & VVS chipped in with useful knocks in both innings with SRT & Gambir in 1st innings. Ashwin proved a genuine allrounder in this game shutting the doors for Bhajji's return, but still Ashwin's duty is to pick wickets for India and not to score runs with bat.

  • dummy4fb on November 28, 2011, 1:01 GMT

    Other than Ojha & Ashwin; all others contributed, at some point or other during this test, to this "failure" to win! Chasing personal records, excuses, and blaming everyone else except oneself had been the banes of Indian Cricket for a very long time... seems to be reverting back to those old habits .. and discarding the new habit of ruthlessly chasing victories. If we don't get out of this unfortunate relapse, watch out for big heart breaks in Australia.

  • moBlue on November 27, 2011, 21:33 GMT

    people who are focusing on ashwin's last ball running mistake - and *that* was a mistake, all right - are short-sighted and don't have perspective. if it weren't for ashwin's first inning knock - under pressure - india would have probably lost this match. if it weren't for ashwin's and ojha's bowling on the fifth day, india would not have been in a position to win [yes, the match would have been drawn - but which true-blue cricket fan would have opted for *that* kind of "safety" as opposed to the thriller we got?!?]. lastly, we didn't win yesterday not because ashwin and kohli didn't finish the job but because many (if not all) of the senior players around them failed or didn't finish the job!!! winning the game on day 5 should be the job of the senior players in any test side- not delegated to rookies who are then blamed for the failure though they got IND to the finish line [and maybe even risked too much- if aaron's swish was an inside edge on to the stumps and ojha facing 3 balls!]

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on November 27, 2011, 19:25 GMT

    @TRAM, the record addiction will not go from people's mind because that's what has given bragging rights (Bradman's numbers) to talk of greatness from as long as I can remember.

  • Nampally on November 27, 2011, 18:44 GMT

    @TRAM: You are absolutely right. Kohli scored a half century in each innings whie Ashwin scored a century and saved the match for India. Yet there are more guys attacking Ashwin for being half hearted for the second run. If either Aaron or Ashwin got out with a couple of balls left, Ojha may have been out first ball to give WI the victory. Nobody is even talking about this reality!. Dhoni indirectly appeared to have blamed Kohli for Rookie mistake! Dhoni forgets that he got out twice cheaply & very irresponsibly. This is a much begger mistake than that of a Rookie Kohli. Also Sachin & Gambhir got out cheaply.Fact of the Match: It was brilliant bowling of Ashwin & Ojha that got India within the striking distance of a Win but the world famed strong Indian batting blew it. Kohli & Ashwin rescued India for the second time - shall I say from a defeat?. I have nothing but praise for Ojha, Ashwin & Kohli to make this Test match into a dramatic & historic Tie. Well done young guys!.

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