Dhoni hails "very very special" Laxman
MS Dhoni was full of praise for VVS Laxman, calling him "very, very special", after the latter's sublime century helped India win the third Test and level the three-match series against Sri Lanka.
Laxman finished with an unbeaten 103 and got enough support from Sachin Tendulkar (54) and Suresh Raina (41 not out), to propel India to a five wicket win over Sri Lanka.
"He (Laxman) proved today why he is called very, very special," Dhoni said. "He always comes up with innings that have a huge bearing on the game. It was very important for him to score runs as the team needed it most to level the series. I think it is a very special innings. Hopefully, he plays plenty more innings like this for us.
"I think the way he batted he paced his innings really well. He was struggling a bit with back spasm but still he wanted to go on without a runner. But after lunch there was a time when he had to go for a runner. I think there was pain and there was pressure at the same time," he said.
Dhoni also singled out the contributions from Tendulkar and Raina, who smashed Chanaka Weledegadara for six over long-on to bring up the victory.
"I think Sachin too batted really well and after he got out, Raina came in and supported Laxman. Raina batted well. In the initial few balls he played a few big shots but after that he calmed himself down and batted sensibly."
According to Dhoni, coming back to draw the series meant both the batsmen and the bowlers had done their jobs. "If we had lost this series it would have been because of our batting line up not performing really well,' he said. "If it was a draw series which meant that both the batsmen and the bowlers did decently."
He added that the bowlers couldn't really be blamed for not taking wickets as there wasn't much help from the pitches, especially for the fast bowlers.
"I think in the first Test the batsmen could have done much better. I cannot really complain about the bowlers because in all the three Test matches we bowled first on a fresh track where there was not much help for the fast bowlers initially or the spinners. But this was one track where there was a bit of help for the spinners right from the very first day," he said.
Suraj Randiv was the only Sri Lanka bowler to threaten India on the last day, and finished with figures of nine for 162 in just his second Test. But Dhoni said India had enough experience to handle the problems Randiv posed.
"Randiv bowled really well. But we have got a batting line up where most of the players have played over 100 Tests. Or some are very close to playing 100 Tests. So, they are experienced enough to make their own plans."
Dhoni said India's strategy on the last day was to see out the initial overs, after which the ball got soft, making batting a whole lot easier.
"The first few overs were very important because the ball was quite hard which meant the spinners got a bit of bounce and turn. We just wanted to go through the initial overs and play our shots when the ball gets soft."