Nagpur:India might have won the third Test against New Zealand by an innings and 198 runs but captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday said that the team didn't perform to their full potential in the three-match series.
"I would say we have performed 60 per cent of what we are capable of in this particular Test match. It may be for whatever reason. About the first two Test matches, we could only play upto 40 percent of our potential," the Indian captain said at the post-match media conference on Tuesday.
However, the skipper once again came in defence of an out-of-form Suresh Raina terming the player's bad patch as a result of being "mentally" exhausted having played a lot of cricket for last six months.
"Raina has been consistently playing for long period of time. Even I got a break during the tour of Zimbabwe but he also played there. Luckily, I have got a break of 10-15 days now which will help to freshen up and prepare for the South Africa series.
"But he hasn't got a break even in the first two matches of the New Zealand ODI series. There are times when it's more of a mental aspect than a physical one of not being 100 per cent there," Dhoni said, while backing the talented Uttar Pradesh youngster who has only scored 26 runs in four innings.
Asked if the Indian board could rest five seniors (Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh), why couldn't they take risk of resting a sixth player, the skipper presented a dead bat.
"That's not for me to answer. It's better if you ask the BCCI. I only hope that he gets a chance to rest in the last three ODIs. He is an important player in our line-up and also our main fielder. So day in and day out when you are playing, you tend to get exhausted and more so mentally. A break would do him good," he said.
Dhoni was all praise for man-of-the-match Rahul Dravid and Ishant Sharma who took seven wickets in the match.
"Of course it's big positive that Ishant bowled so well here. If you have more bowlers doing well then it gives you more options. Similarly in batting, it's Rahul and Sachin who bring in the stability in the middle order.
"Rahul is an important player in the line-up as you require someone like him after Viru gives you that momentum. This helps the batsmen coming lower down the order much more confidence," he said.
About the pitch, he termed it as a "typical Indian wicket where the surface is dry and there was turn."
On a lighter note, Dhoni said that he never expected that he will face the media in the afternoon itself rather than evening.
"Well, I thought I will meet you people late in the day but not so early. Credit to the bowlers for the manner, in which they bowled. It was a plan to bat an hour extra yesterday so that we don't have to bowl too many overs in the evening.
"This helped us in keeping the ball hard as then it would help the seamers as well as the spinners who can get bounce and turn. It was nice that even Raina got a few wickets. I was happy to see Ishant bowl quick and in right areas," he said. Some of the decisions in the Test series were debatable but the Indian captain still stuck to his point that use UDRS is not something foolproof.
"Unless I am convinced that a system is 100 per cent error free I am not convinced. I would rather suggest that something which close to Hot-Spot can be tried out. In bowling-friendly conditions, it's ok but when you are playing on a flat track, two or three wrong decisions could mean that the bowling team would have to bowl 40-50 overs more," he said.
Dhoni welcomed the idea of sending the batsmen to South Africa a week earlier to acclimatise to the pace and bounce of the wickets out there.
"It's a good move to send the batsmen early. We haven't done very well on our tours to South Africa earlier so it will be a challenge. But we are focusing more on the process and the little things we need to do right. The result will then take care of itself," the captain maintained.