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August 30, 2008
Dilip Vengsarkar, India's chairman of selectors, has praised captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his role in the 3-2 series win in the one-dayers in Sri Lanka. Dhoni was rested for the Test series, which India lost, but his contributions with the bat, his handling of the Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis and his leadership skills have impressed Vengsarkar.
"Dhoni's return to the team was a boon. Not only did he lead the side superbly but he played a couple of match-winning knocks," Vengsarkar told the Times of India in Colombo. "More importantly, he handled the dreaded Ajantha Mendis with ease, and in the process, he showed his colleagues that Mendis could be handled and scored off too."
Dhoni scored two half-centuries and picked up the Man-of-the-Series award after leading the overall run charts with 193 runs in five games.
Vengsarkar felt India had "outplayed Sri Lanka in all departments of the game" and was proud of the fact that the team had reversed their unsatisfactory record against the Sri Lankans away from home.
"Man to man, India were a superior team and they played like one. For the last two years or so, India have really gone up in the rankings by several notches and that's very heartening," Vengsarkar said. "Mind you, it's tough to beat Sri Lanka on their home turf, as no Indian team has done it in the past and that's why it is more satisfying."
Reflecting on the Tests, Vengsarkar felt India's overcautious approach against Mendis along with some average fielding, had cost them. Mendis finished with 26 wickets in his debut series, which included a ten-wicket haul in Galle.
"I guess Mendis was the difference between the two sides. He bowled brilliantly but what surprised me was the overcautious approach of the batsmen. I feel [Sachin] Tendulkar got more bogged down than necessary. In fact, with the kind of batting line-up that India boast of, it should have been Mendis was overawed.
"Besides, the referral system needs a re-look, for a lot many batsmen were given out after stretching their front foot a long way forward."
Vengsarkar was, however, satisfied with India's bench strength, but wouldn't commit on the quartet of Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman returning to the one-day side. "Though there are quite a few players knocking at the Test level, at the moment the bench strength looks pretty solid. And it's not fair for me to answer this question as the selection panel consists of five people."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.