'Mixed emotions' for Dhoni after rollercoaster Test
India were 301 runs behind New Zealand on the first innings. They rebounded from that position so well that at one stage they needed 185 to win with eight wickets remaining. To go down from that point left MS Dhoni with "mixed emotions" after a rollercoaster of a Test. He was proud of the way both his bowlers and batsmen had fought back in the second innings, but disappointed that India fell short by 40 runs in their chase of 407.
"I think it is mixed emotions. The first innings we didn't bowl well to start off," Dhoni said. "The first session was good, but I think it was one of the best bowling performances if I see the second innings - definitely in the last two-three years - especially on a wicket where there was not much assistance after the first session. I think the second innings by the bowlers really brought us back into the game, and gave us something where we could have said, yes, this is a big target, but we can look to chase it down."
India were 222 for 2 in the chase with Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan going strong but Kohli tried to pull a wide one from Neil Wagner in the 61st over and fell for 67. While Dhoni said batsmen had to make the most of such situations, he added that the phase where India lost wickets to the second new ball hurt them more.
"Our batsmen batted well in the second innings. Close to the 85th over, we lost a few wickets and we had a tough decision (Ajinkya Rahane's) at the same time which meant we were short of 30-35 runs and that was the crucial phase. The second new ball would have moved for maybe five-six overs maximum. That was the period when if we would have not given our wickets, we would have got those 40 runs. So there were quite a few things that did not go our way."
Despite their efforts in the second innings, India had conceded too much ground in the first, when they won the toss in overcast conditions and let New Zealand pile on 503 from 30 for 3. Managing 202 after that only added to their woes.
"Both departments we could have done better," Dhoni said. "Especially if you see the second innings bowling, there were hardly any shots played through the point region which meant we very tight, we were bowling close to the off stump area. Because of that, we used that same fielder in the short-cover position and we got a few catches there so I think yes, we gave away a few deliveries to score in the first innings because of which we were at the receiving end.
"Once you get a couple of batsmen going, they have spent a bit of time ... it was a wicket where you could have gone on to score big, (like) how Brendon McCullum scored. Yes, there were a few missed catches also, but those are part and parcel of the game. Anyone and everyone can drop catches. I won't really point that. Yes, that also contributed to some extent."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo