New Zealand v India, 2nd Test, Wellington, 2nd day February 15, 2014

'Dhoni's counterattack hurt us' - Watling


New Zealand took a risk when they prepared a grassy pitch at the Basin Reserve. The ploy could have backfired if they were put in to bat, and that is what happened.

India racked up 438 with the pitch becoming better for batting on day two after New Zealand were dismissed for 192 on day one. BJ Watling said that a couple of strikes at crucial stages would have meant a much smaller deficit for the hosts, but also credited the Indian batsmen, particularly MS Dhoni for his aggressive half-century.

"It is obviously not ideal. We got ourselves into situations where if we had taken another wicket or two, we could have been chasing 100 or a 150," Watling said. "Obviously, it is a disappointing result in the end but we have still got three days to grind it out here and the track has definitely looked a lot better to bat on today. It wasn't swinging or seaming as much as it did on day one."

Watling felt New Zealand had done alright and even come back strongly with the ball at one point, but the hosts had also let India get away in the end. India fell from 141 for 2 to 165 for 5, before MS Dhoni's counterattacking 68 and a partnership of 120 with Ajinkya Rahane pulled them in front, something Watling felt made the difference.

"We went through patches. We didn't start too well and then we pulled it back nicely at times and asked a lot of questions. They had a couple of counterattacks at us and we didn't quite set it up as well as we would like to but all in all, I think we bowled reasonably well and we didn't quite get the rewards in the end.

"Credit must go their batters. Dhawan obviously played really well at the top and got them off to a good start and Rahane's hundred was pretty good. He played very well. But Dhoni's counterattack hurt us and that partnership was probably the difference between an ok day and a good day for them. If we had taken a wicket there, we could have been right in the hunt."

New Zealand had also been taken by surprise by a counter-attack from Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja in the first Test in Auckland before closing out the game by 40 runs. Watling said New Zealand knew a repeat could be on the cards

"We knew when Jadeja came out, he was definitely going to play his shots. For us, it was about hitting the right areas and we got him reasonably quickly. Dhoni again played really well. He played and missed a few times, things could be a little bit different but we knew that he was going to come at us hard and he obviously soaked it up before that new ball. But we were prepared for them coming at us."

Both Watling and Rahane said the pitch had improved for the batsmen, although there was still something in it for the bowlers. Watling acknowledged the enormity of the task facing New Zealand with three days to go, but said there was still a "good attitude" in the dressing room.

"It's going to be a huge challenge," Watling said. "We are going to have to bat a long time here to get ourselves back in the game. (Ishant) Sharma is bowling really well, so is Shami and Zaheer is an experienced bowler and he will hit some good areas too, so we got to soak it up in the morning for an hour and then bat for a long time.

"But I don't think there are too many demons in the wicket at the moment, it should be at its best tomorrow. Day one it was pretty green and doing a bit. Today, there was still enough in it for the bowlers but it has browned off and looks a pretty decent batting track now.

"There is still good attitude in the shed. The boys ran in hard today and bowled well and we appreciated their effort. Now it is the job of the batters to try and grind out as many runs as we can and bat for a long time. We know what's ahead of us and now it's time to step up and try and fight back and push back."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 16, 2014, 20:48 GMT

    aswin is no 1 all rounder in test and 8th in bowling he is good he try to do something different but it fails but still he is good comparing to other batsman he played far better even sachin failed some time i strongly support aswin he good

  • SATISH CHANDER on February 15, 2014, 21:24 GMT

    @Presynaras : Ashwin is simply not bowling good for last so many matches....I do not think he deserves to be even picked in the team....I feel we need to give a orthodox leg spinner like Mishra or Ojha chances at least in overseas conditions. Ashwin can be played in home conditions - he is good there.

  • uncle bob on February 15, 2014, 19:56 GMT

    That is how Dhoni should always play. When he attacks most bowlers start shrinking in their shells. Coach and team must impress upon Dhoni to go up the order a bit and start attacking from get go. True he may fail a few times but whenever he will succeed India will be in a great position.

  • Satish on February 15, 2014, 16:25 GMT

    Without Rahane innings it would be floodgates today. Clearly Dhoni plays well when he play naturally. He's never a batsman of kind, he always plays to the situation and getting the momentum back. The major difference from other batsman role is his self-made "counter attack" - which is helping us mostly. I am sure Indian bowlers will give tough time for NZ - If Williamson goes early, it would be a sure win. Good luck guys - A hardcore Cricket fan.

  • Dummy4 on February 15, 2014, 16:14 GMT

    Sayak, I agree with 10 of the 11 you have picked. I would not want Vijay anywhere around a national team. Vijay's cricketing characteristics - can't bowl, can't field - no hard chasing / using his reflexes to catch something out of thin air...he actually dropped at least 1 sitter in the first test which helped NZ add at least 80 - 100 runs to their first innings total.....India lost the game by 40. Between Vijay & Sharma, Sharma at least fields, even bowls sometimes. I would pick Sharma ahead of Vijay any day. If you don't like Sharma, pick Ashwin so Dhoni has 4 batsmen - S. Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli & Rahane 3 All Rounders - Ashwin, Jadeja & R. Dhawan & 3 bowlers - Shami for sure + 2 of Ishant, Zak, Panday, Yadav & Bhuvi.

  • Prashanth on February 15, 2014, 15:50 GMT

    India must send Rahane to open with Dhawan and bring Ashwin at 6. Ashwin far superior batsmen to Rohit and Vijay and far more consistent. He could also be the fifth bowler in overseas condition, while being the lead wicket taker in Indian conditions. Jadeja and Ashwin together are more efficient than individually.

  • Ashok on February 15, 2014, 14:16 GMT

    Yes Dhoni's counter attack especially in one over with four consecutive 4's off Wagner was the highlight which put NZ bowlers on the back foot. India badly needed this style of batting when India was threatened with a "wal thru'" the bottom half. These tactics Dhoni used in the First Test but with an inexperienced jadeja. Had Dhoni did the aggression himself & made Jadeja the defensive partner, it would have paid off! Jadeja tried this after Dhoni but failed again. Dhoni has the power to smash the leather off the ball with so many strokes that no bowler can contain his aggression. That is why he is the best "Finisher' in the ODI Cricket. Umpires were repeatedly ignoring Wagner's no-Balls - cutting the return crease at least thrice/over! That may be the reason for singling out Wagner. The NZ commentators were clearly showing the no-Balls in slow motion too. It was a similar No-Ball on which Dhoni was given out wrongly in the First Test & cost Indian loss! What are duties of TV Umpire?

  • Dummy4 on February 15, 2014, 14:13 GMT

    It is high time India try Rishi Dhawan as the pce bowling all rounder. The highest wicket taker in Ranji warrants a selection purely as a bowler. Also in away tests, I prefer Ashwin to Rohit. He batting seems better suited to test cricket than Rohit. Thatt way India can play 3 pacers+2 all rounders (Ashwin/Jadeja+Rishi)+ 5 batsmen (Dhawan+Vijay+Kohli+Pujara+Rahane) and Dhoni. In home tests Ashwin and Jadeja both should play and other bowlers should be 2 pacers+Ojha+Rishi/1 pacer+Ojha+Amit Mishra+Rishi. Ishant should not be considered in the 11 for ODIs,T20s and home tests.

  • akshey on February 15, 2014, 13:46 GMT

    Its not just Ishant's job to take 5 fers and win game ..... though i hope he does tht to shut up everyone. Having said that lets not forget the huge contribution from Zak and shami by keeping the run rate down and maintaining the pressure. runs leaking from one end makes it impossible to set up batsman and grab wickets at the other end. 200+ is a huge lead and that should help indians even if the pitch gets really flat. It will allow the bowlers the room for just keep bowling good length and give dhoni some cusion to keep a fairly attacking field. they keep at it and the pressure to grind it out will get to the batsman. With no taylor... mccullum wudnt even dream about counter attacking. Wickets arent gonna come easily and so its important to take those half chances

  • thomas on February 15, 2014, 13:06 GMT

    I wish Jadeja would come at 7 with Rahane at 5 and get a medium pace all rounder like Rishi or Pandey at 8. It would give more bowling options and Jadeja not a big fan seems to have lot more guts than Rohit. I think it will give India a solidity and lot more options in bowling. Ofcourse when they play in India they can replace the pace all rounder with Mishra or someone like that

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