MS Dhoni has said India's 126-run victory in Hyderabad was an important one as their losing-streak had lasted a bit too long and they needed to start enjoying the game again. India had not managed a single international win on their recent tour of England, and had lost all four Tests and three ODIs.
"It's important to win games," Dhoni said after the match in Hyderabad. "If you're not winning games, you don't enjoy playing cricket and our losing streak was a bit too long. We actually played quite well during the ODIs in England and our batsmen got us the runs. But the rain there made it hard for our spinners to grip the wet ball and the seamers too were easy to score of since the ball would come on to the bat better after it rained. Tonight there was no dew and our bowlers showed that they can win us games if the conditions are in their favour."
A lot of the runs that India scored in the ODIs in England were contributed by Dhoni himself, and he continued that form in Hyderabad, scoring his fourth half-century in as many one-day innings. He said his innings of 87 from 70 balls was a calculated one in that he went for some lofted strokes through the off side that he doesn't play as much since remodelling his game to be a steadying influence on the middle order at No. 6.
Dhoni started his innings on Friday slowly, getting to five of 18 balls before he got his first boundary. He then targeted the off side, hitting eight of his ten fours through there, including a couple of lofts through extra-cover.
"I normally don't believe in rating my performance but yes this innings is a precious innings for me," he said. "Once I started batting at No 6, I had remodelled my game but this innings of mine was a very well calculated one. It was not easy to rotate strike in the middle overs particularly when Graeme Swann was bowling. It was important to just get through that phase.
"I tried a lot of aerial shots which I normally don't play nowadays. I have been practising hitting over the cover region and I felt this was the right match to try that out and it worked well."
After Dhoni's innings had helped India reach 300, Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin sparked an England collapse. While praising his bowlers, Dhoni was also mindful of the role dew would play in the series, and said though the lack of dew in Hyderabad on Friday was a big help to his bowlers, they couldn't rule out there being dew at other venues, which is why picking the right combination and making the right choice at the toss would be tricky.
"The timing of this series is wrong. Had it been in April or May, there'd be the guarantee of no dew and most of the wickets would turn a lot and the fast bowlers too could use their slower ones to be effective. But now, it's the beginning of winter so it's hard to predict whether there will be dew or not.
"Last night [Thursday] there was quite a bit of dew here but today there wasn't. If we were playing in November or December we could blindly field first knowing the ball would be hard to grip in the evening. But now it's tricky and some decisions may go wrong. Also, we will probably have to stick with three quicks and two spinners because if there is dew then it will be hard to manoeuvre three spinners."