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Sriram Veera at the Kensington Oval
July 2, 2011
India needed three West Indian wickets in about 11 overs when bad light forced the Barbados Test to be abandoned. The loss of Darren Bravo and Darren Sammy in quick succession, gave India the advantage at that late stage, but they couldn't press on because of the conditions. MS Dhoni has said that he would have loved to have had those extra overs, but his team weren't too disappointed that they couldn't force a result. "We are not disappointed, because it [the draw] happened due to things that are beyond our control, like rain and bad light," he said. "We wanted to bowl around 80 overs, but unfortunately we were not able to do so. But we tried our best, so there's no reason to be frustrated."
The game could have meandered towards a dull draw if Dhoni hadn't declared in the morning. He is not known for generous third-innings declarations: his previous declarations have set oppositions targets of 516, 403 and 617. So why did he choose to declare today at that stage? "It is a difficult target to achieve, if you are batting for around 80 overs to get around 280 runs," Dhoni said. "The outfield was also very slow, so we thought that was a good enough target and that's why we declared.
"You will not know how much rain you going to get during the course of the game, so we thought 80 overs are enough to bowl the opposition out. We started with an attacking field straightway, and that's why they got a few boundaries initially. That's why we thought of 280 and didn't declare at 240, so that we can have close-in fielders for those extra five-six overs."
West Indies lost three quick wickets at the start, before they rallied through a 54-run partnership between Darren Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and then a 69-run stand between Bravo and Carlton Baugh. At one stage, West Indies needed 100 runs from 18.3 overs when rain intervened. Was Dhoni worried then? "It was pretty balanced then. They were five down, and we needed just two more wickets. We got them towards the end, and from that point it would have been difficult for them to get 70-80 runs. So the declaration was a right decision."
Dhoni had words of praise for Ishant Sharma who made that declaration look really good with a four-wicket haul. "Right from IPL, Ishant has been bowling well. If you look at his performance in the IPL, he was doing everything right - like the seam position - and he has been pitching the ball in the right areas, that's why he's able to get pace and bounce. The time he spent with Zaheer Khan has been very useful for him, because Zaheer has shared his experience with him."
On a day where India pushed hard for a series victory, some youngsters learnt that they were dropped from the squad that will begin to tour England later this month. That couldn't have been easy situation to handle for the captain, in the middle of a Test… "That's a difficult one, because we need to interact with the players to see what's happening with them and make sure they are not bogged down," Dhoni said. "Selection is really not in their hands. But they [those who are dropped] need to take positives out of a series or match, and go back and work on their game."
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