Chennai: Under attack till very recently for India's dismal shows, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni reckons that keeping himself shut off from all the criticism that came his way has helped him concentrate on his performance.
Dhoni, who smashed a game-changing 224 to play a big part in India's eight-wicket victory in the first Test against Australia, said he had not changed his playing style despite the criticism.
Asked about the pressure on him due to recent failures of the Indian team and effect of criticism on his performance, Dhoni said he mostly tried to keep himself aloof.
"What really matters is the job I'm trying to do. The best thing I've done so far is to not watch news or read newspapers, so that has really helped, frankly," Dhoni said at the post-match press conference.
"It's not that I do not read newspapers, it's just that the third page from the back is always the sports page, so you try to get rid of that. Otherwise you don't get to know what's happening in India," said Dhoni.
He said he has not changed a bit in his playing style, despite all the criticism that have come his way.
"Nothing has changed. Whatever is your speciality remains your speciality. Nothing has changed," he said.
Dhoni attributed the Test win to team effort and said it was all about executing the plans.
"I think a lot of credit goes to batsmen number three, four and five because they played long innings. OK, Sachin Tendulkar did not get a 100 or Pujara did not get a big 50, but still they played for a considerable period of time," said Dhoni.
"The humidity over here, you know Chennai gets quite humid so it helps in getting the opposition bowlers tired. And it was important that we batted for four sessions. We were able to bat for more than four sessions. Overall it was a very good effort both by bowlers and batsmen," he said.
Dhoni disclosed that he batted according to a plan to play some big shots initially so that the extra-catching fielder near him was removed.
"This Test was evenly poised when I came in and Nathan Lyon was bowling well. So, it was important to play a few big shots so that you could get rid of that extra catching fielder from near you," Dhoni said.
"So that if you misread a flighted delivery, or go back to a ball pitched slightly up, you don't have that one extra fielder to catch that inside edge or a bat-pad. It worked well," he said.
Asked if missing out on a hundred in Nagpur in his previous Test had played on his mind in this match, Dhoni said, "I have got five 90s, so it doesn't weight any more. Seriously, I've got out in the 90s plenty of times. I personally believe it's the top six batsmen, OK I'm batting at six now, but they're the ones who really worry about the 100s.
"It's the weightage of the innings, I've never thought about 100s. I remember the 92 I scored at the Oval in 2007. Dilip Vengsarkar was there and he said whether I would do different. I said no, I would bat the same way, and if I get a chance to hit, I would hit. So nothing much has changed," said Dhoni.
The Indian captain refused to rate his double ton here, saying that each knock has its own significance in the context of team success.
"I don't have many big innings, so it's slightly easy for me to choose. But at the same time it's difficult to choose because I don't have many. I feel the 70 runs I scored at the Lord's in 2007 series were very special because that innings helped us win the series.
"It's not the amount of runs, often it's the weightage of the innings that you've played that matters. It might be just a 25-30 runs you've scored, but if they have a big impact on a match or series, that can be really special," he said.
Asked about his first Test hundred at Faisalabd in 2006, he said, "Every innings is special in its own way. I don't believe in comparisons. I enjoyed the first one, that was my first 100 in Tests. It was a very different innings here, special for me." Asked to whom he would dedicate his double ton, Dhoni said, "I'll keep it to myself." Dhoni said that he would bat at number six in Test till Ravindra Jadeja starts doing well consistently for a possible take over of that slot.
"Till Jadeja is playing I've got to bat at number six, till he gets comfortable, gets used to Test cricket. If he starts doing really well, according to the talent he has, we'll think about it later," he said.
He praised off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for his 12-wicket haul in the Test and said he has returned to form with a bang.
"We need to respect the fact that he's someone who's got a lot of variations, and that's his strength. When you go through a lean period, people say that he's not consistent with his off-spin, that he should just bowl his off-spin.
"It's just that in that period, he was not able to pitch all these deliveries at the same point. This was the period when he was not very consistent. It was important for him to come back and I'm glad that in this Test, he bowled a very good length. I'm very happy with his bowling."
On Harbhajan Singh, who took three wickets in his 100th Test, Dhoni said, "Bhajji was a bit tentative in first innings but in second innings he came out very strongly. He was very consistent with his length. So overall it's a very good sign for us in the spin department."
He also felt that Chepauk pitch behaved even throughout the Test.
"This wicket was looking ugly. When you went in to bat you saw so many rough patches, you feared it would do much. But once you get used to the pace and bounce of the wicket, then it becomes slightly easy to bat on.
"The wicket became a bit difficult to bat later on in the sense that if a few balls bounced at you, and if you're not having a very good time, you might get out on that particular delivery. Apart from that, the wicket played quite even throughout the match."