We knew it may rain, but it was not certain: Dhoni

Updated: 07 April 2009 13:30 IST

MS Dhoni said he was expecting another 10 overs to mop up the New Zealand tail before the heavens opened up and dashed his hopes.


Under fire for his delayed declaration, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday defended his decision, saying 110-120 overs would have been enough for his team to win the match and there was no need to change his plan just because of rain prediction.

"Of course, it is a bit disappointing not to win this Test," Dhoni said after the third and final Test against New Zealand ended in a draw. "(But) You don't want to change your plan, whatever position you are in. With two days of play, we knew it may rain, but at that point of time, it was not certain." Dhoni said.

India could bowl only 94.2 overs as New Zealand were 281-8 when rain marred the final day's play depriving the visitors of a deserving win. India won the three-match series 1-0 after 41 years.

"With the amount of wind that goes around, there was a very good chance that the clouds would have been blown away also. We were quite comfortable batting; if we had got 110-120 overs, we thought we would get them out," he explained.

"You can't really bank on the weather. "I was expecting 10 more overs," said Dhoni, who became the first captain since Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi led the Indian team to Test series win in New Zealand in 1967-68.

Dhoni said his team played with an attacking mindset in New Zealand's second innings and did not want to change their plan.

"And it is about the mindset also. When you have that extra 80-odd runs on the board, you can have that extra catching fielders hanging around for a longer duration of time," Dhoni said.

"Because throughout, what we wanted to do in the second innings was to attack, attack and attack so that even if one ball goes in the air, you want a fielder to catch it. That's only possible when you have that extra 70-80 runs," he said.

Dhoni also said it would not be easy for the future Indian teams visiting here after the benchmark had been set."

Dhoni felt it would not be easy for the future India teams visiting trans-tasmania after his side has set the benchmark.

"We have set the benchmark. Next time when we come to New Zealand, people expect you to win. You have achieved something that's big but the tough part is to maintain it, to sustain it. It never gets easy for a cricketer.

"Nothing comes easy, it will be tougher for the guys who come on the next tour," he said.

Dhoni attributed the series win to team effort but showered special praise on Delhi opener Gautam Gambhir and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan.

"Both of them, they keep on improving, each and every game that they play, they look to improve. They raise the bar wherever they are performing. All the batsmen, whenever they are set, they want to get a big score for the side. It's not only about getting 50s and 100s, if needed they can go beyond that," Dhoni said.

"Zak has been brilliant in the last one and a half to two years. He has bowled well everywhere. He always comes up with a few plans of his, he executes those plans and he helps the other bowlers. It has been fantastic to see the way he has bowled throughout the series, whether the wicket was helping him or there was no help for him," he said.

The skipper said even lower order pitch in with contribution when required.

"Overall, a very good team effort. Contributions came when they were needed. Wickets were on the flatter side, there wasn't much in it for the bowlers, so they have to keep on changing their plans and improvising at times.

"The same applied with the batsmen also. Overall, the effort by the bowlers was really great and the lower-order contribution is very important because that really takes the morale of the team really up. Whenever it was really needed from them, the lower-order contributed," he said.

Dhoni was also impressed with off-spinner Harbhajan Singh's efforts in the adverse trans-tasmanian conditions.

"It's very difficult, the wind increased in the last couple of days. Munaf did well to bowl a few overs from the far end. Bhajji took over. It's difficult for a spinner to bowl against the breeze," Dhoni said.

"Batsmen can look to take you on, even a mishit can carry over the boundary. But he used the breeze to have a bigger impact on the game. He was drifting the ball both ways and that's what is important. You want to beat the batsman in flight and that's what he did," he said.

Sachin Tendulkar's successful bowling spell was also lauded by Dhoni, who again highlighted the importance of the Mumbaikar's presence in the side.

"That's what is great about Sachin Tendulkar. It's not like he just contributes with the bat or with the ideas that he has got. He can contribute as a bowler.

"Of late, we have not seen him bowl much but this was an occasion where he said I want to bowl. He made the most of it, he was mixing the deliveries well, he was flighting the ball, using the googlies to a good extent and confusing the batsmen.

So that really helped, it set up that momentum where we were looking to win the game.

On the wicket, Dhoni said "I reckon it depends on what you think is a good Test wicket. If you think 2003 was a good Test wicket, then this was not a good Test wicket!"

"There was something for the bowlers as well. Even in the first innings, the New Zealand bowlers bowled well. There was everything ? for the seamers, if not much help in or off the wicket, there was something with the wind that you can use.

But it was more favourable to the batsman," Dhoni said.

Having capped the T20 disappointment with the Test and ODI series win, Dhoni said his team improved with every game.

"Fantastic atmosphere, can't get better. It has been good, from the very first game that we played. We lost the first couple of Twenty20 games, and then won the one-day and Test series.

We have improved a lot, we have put in effort. We wanted to improve in specific areas which we have. A good learning curve for us, good exposure for some of the youngsters in the side. Overall, a very pleasing tour."

Topics : Cricket Sachin Tendulkar Rahul Dravid Adam Parore Ishant Sharma Virender Sehwag Daniel Vettori
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