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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ESPN on February 10, 2014, 9:12 GMT

    Who is backing MSD? Or is this his way if jumping the gun to protect his captaincy. Which Indian captain has stayed so long after 10 straight test losses and so many series abroad. Even the great Dravidi, sachin and Ganguly didn't have this luxury!

  • Ravi on February 9, 2014, 23:47 GMT

    Winning and losing is part of the game. But how you play is important, I think Indian team did show some character and that augurs well. But there are mistakes that are being repeated over and over. That needs to be addressed. New Zealand team seems to be gelling well and showing promise.

  • Dummy on February 9, 2014, 23:46 GMT

    India should teach their bowlers pinch hitting and give some basic batting classes

  • Dummy on February 9, 2014, 23:45 GMT

    I feel the move by Jadeja is one of the best in the match. This will be a new chapter ito study in many more test matches to come. They should have settled a bit when target reached below 90. Dhoni should come up the order and keep Rahane so that one pair can go for complete hitting with a backupin mind.

  • AJITH on February 9, 2014, 21:31 GMT

    I support the Indian team, however I am embarrassed by some of the clueless comments here by the Indians. Jadeja and Dhoni just dont have the temperament or skills to play the swinging ball. Nothing wrong with what Jadeja did, in hindsight it is easy to say that he shouldn't have played the shot, but he barely mistimed any shot through out. Just got a little unlucky. Also the batting skills of the tail is zero.

    Also surprised by the kiwi comments on Mccullum's decision to not enforce the follow on. considering the pop gun attack no one would have expected them to fold for a 100!

    I am glad they put up a fight. But unfortunately Zaheer and Ishant will keep playing for 10 more test matches based on this performance. High time to kick them out. I am wondering how the NZ bowlers were getting better results even though they were clocking less than 135kmph. Better skills I guess.

  • Dummy4 on February 9, 2014, 20:26 GMT

    @Sangeet Khatri. What if Williamson was not given out in the first innings. He might have gone on to make 250 runs. You don't know. Also when a batsman gets a bad decision from an umpire, how do you know if he would have been dismissed the very next ball with an unplayable delivery. You see sir we can play these what if games for the whole night.

  • ESPN on February 9, 2014, 20:03 GMT

    I love the Indian supporters here today. They're all very proud of their team because in just about every comment they're willing to admit that Indian batsmen failed but not that NZ bowlers succeeded.

  • ANAND on February 9, 2014, 20:00 GMT

    Dhoni didn't mention one other important thing - that he and Jadeja didn't have the technique and temperament to withstand the new ball and the opposition's pacers by just playing it out. They took the attacking approach because that's what works for them considering the limited talent they have for test cricket. They played around their weakness, and it almost worked. But when the target is so high, it invariably wont work because one ball or the other, the opposition will get you.

    We need more technicalls sound players in the test side. Like Saha for Dhoni! Saha is a technically good bat

  • Vijay on February 9, 2014, 19:39 GMT

    The typical Indian attitude of defensive play in that situation when R. Sharma got out is why they get buried when they play overseas. If you have the skills you have to be confident and go for it. What is the point of defending a few more overs, keeping the pressure on the Indian team and letting NZ continue to dominate?

    This is the brand of cricket Indians should encourage rather than condemn. Kudos to Dhoni & co. for having the guts to go down with guns blazing. Fantastic stuff.

  • Dummy4 on February 9, 2014, 19:23 GMT

    The big mistake Dhoni made was not sending himself up before Rahane since Rohit was forever has been struggling to hold his own. Rohit is man who has no confidence in his ability so why should the Indian Team give him any more chances ?Whether he bats as an opener or in the middle he is "Disaster" for Indian Team and should be sent for more practice matches back to the Ranji Trophy League. Why did Jadeja had to keep on attacking even after scoring 8-9 runs in the over, instead of waiting for the next few overs to carry on the job, in no way was he going to finish the match in that particular over. It is rubbish if Dhoni says he did right and got out ! Dhoni could have gone and told him alright take it easy till next over, take a breather. Or Dhoni could have sent in Jadeja,with a view to attack, ahead of Rahane to continue a Left -Right combination...but the captain has his set ideas! One needs Flexibility in strategy to win matches, it not done by brawn only.

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