New Zealand v India, 1st Test, Auckland, 4th day February 9, 2014

Dhoni backs Jadeja counterattack ploy

'Twenty more runs and we would have changed gears' - Dhoni

When Rohit Sharma departed first ball after tea, India were 270 for 6 and the target of 407 was now appearing out of reach. Ravindra Jadeja walked in and drove his first ball for four. MS Dhoni began the next over with a driven boundary as well. Soon, it was raining boundaries and the partnership had surged to 54 in just over five overs. New Zealand were rattled but Jadeja mishit one to mid-on for 26, after having swung Trent Boult for a straight six two balls earlier.

Could Jadeja and Dhoni have toned down their aggression? Dhoni said they would have, but only after getting another 25-30 quick runs. India needed 83 more when Jadeja fell, and the extra runs Dhoni and Jadeja were aiming for would have whittled the target down to a more manageable 50-odd. That wasn't to be, but Dhoni said aggression was the way to go at that stage.

"It was important at that time as the momentum was with them," Dhoni said. "The wicket was largely flat but the ball was still new and our approach was that we won't let them get on top. The field was quite attacking and we said that if we play a few big shots, we will score a few runs quickly. Jadeja and I said let us take a bit of risk as we needed a lot of runs at the stage. And it paid off, we got some runs quickly.

"Our target was if we got another 25-30 runs, we would change gears. It was important we get runs. The lower order has not contributed much for us, especially Nos 9,10 and 11. It was difficult to leave too many runs for them. We did well to get those many runs in that phase, but it was 40 runs too many."

Dhoni said India wanted to put the pressure back on New Zealand, and that had he and Jadeja not attacked at that point, India would not have reached where they did. "It is always easy to say once the wicket fell, maybe that was one shot too many but we got close to the target because of that five-seven over period where we got quick runs.

"It was important also to put the opposition under a bit of pressure because those 25 (extra) runs, if Jadeja wouldn't have got out, the opposition feel the pressure, as they have to get us out but at the same time they don't want to give too many boundaries. That was the thinking behind it. To some extent it paid off, but if you are playing risky cricket, at times, you may get out, and that is what happened. "

Brendon McCullum admitted that New Zealand were caught unawares by the counterattack, and was relieved his side had been able to break the stand soon. "They put a lot of pressure back on us when Jadeja came out to bat with Dhoni and they played a brand of cricket that I certainly didn't expect them to play at that point in time. That put us under a lot of pressure. Thankfully we absorbed that and through that tough situation."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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