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November 26, 2011
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]."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala