London: Attack and Mahendra Singh Dhoni go hand in hand, but that does not mean he will screw his face if his batsmen take the defensive route.
Four years ago at Lord's, Dhoni saved India from certain defeat by hanging around for 203 minutes to end up unconquered on 76 with last man S Sreesanth at the other end on four.
Though Dhoni slammed 10 fours in that crucial innings of the Test, his adhesive ways denied England from going one-up in the series First Test blues contributed to India failing to win the 1990, 1996 and 2002 series. But Dhoni's stay of brilliance in that drawn Test four Julys ago, helped India win the series through a splendid conquest in the next Test at Trent Bridge.
Going bang, bang is not a clear cut formula for captain Dhoni. "We will stick to the kind of cricket we know," he said in his pre-Test conference on Wednesday.
"When it comes to attacking cricket and when Virender Sehwag is an opener for you, you don't need to say anything because we all know what he is capable of. We have a different opener in this game -- Abhinav Mukund -- opening with Gautam Gambhir. It is important to stick to the natural game that a particular batsman has unless the team decides to have another strategy," said Dhoni.
Doubtless, Dhoni will miss Sehwag, who will not play the historic 100th India vs England Test due to a shoulder injury. The Delhi dasher has proved to be critical in India gaining No 1 Test status with his quick runs. He's near indispensable, reckon Sehwag supporters.
Mukund did not look a misfit during the last Test series in the West Indies and will have the support of his captain even if he is a snail in comparison to Sehwag. "It's not about playing attacking cricket alone, it's about being in a positive frame of mind. At times, playing a defensive shot is as good as playing a good offensive one."
Lord's has not been overly unkind to debutants. Andrew Strauss and Matt Prior are two players in the current England team who have scored Test debut hundreds here. And if Mukund cannot seek inspiration from the opposing duo, he would do well to remember Sourav Ganguly's show in 1996.
And yes, the man who he has replaced in the squad (Sehwag) has a Test debut hundred to his name too.