India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni heaped praise on his young team after the side defeated England by 95 runs on Monday for their first Test win at Lord's since 1986. The main architect of the historic win was Ishant Sharma and Dhoni praised the lanky pacer for his career-best figures of 7/74. (Scorecard)
Needing 214 and with six wickets to spare on Day 5 of the second Test, England had their backs to the wall. Ishant ensured that any plans of a miraculous rescue was torn apart - much to Dhoni's satisfaction. "It was a fantastic effort. He is our main strike bowler. He is tall, strong and can bowl long spells which helped him excel," Dhoni said at the post-match ceremony. "He did not want to bowl short initially but I told him to keep at it and keep attacking." Ironically, the same Indian team that used to lose overseas because of their inability to deal with short-pitched bowling was now victorious at Lord's on the back of some great short-pitched bowling from Ishant. (Also read: Alastair Cook struggles to come to terms with Lord's defeat)
Dhoni indeed formed a vital partnership with his pacer - one that Ishant acknowledged. "These wickets are not for me, they are for my skipper. He told me to bowl short and it worked," he said after the match. "Cricket is a great leveler. One needs to be patient and I always believed in myself. The plan was to get a wicket and keep attacking after that." (Related: Correcting his action helped Ishant, says his coach)
While Ishant led the attack with the ball on the final day, the Indian win was a result of a combined team effort - one that Dhoni said didn't happen when the side was whitewashed here three years ago. "I think we learnt from 2011. It is important for batsmen to stayÂ in the game till the third day so that our spinners can come in and bowl their heart out. We didn't do it in 2011 but have done that consistently well this time," said the Indian skipper, adding that contributions from the tail are helping India's cause further. "Our tailenders are doing a good job and Bhuvneshwar has the most runs for us which is great." Bhuvneshwar is currently the third-highest scorer in the series with 209 runs. ("We can bounce foreign teams too!")
While Bhuvneshwar's gritty batting at the end pleased Dhoni enormously, he also spoke highly of Ravindra Jadeja who hit 68 from 57 in the second innings and took three wickets in the Test. "Jadeja has to play more like this. The more Tests he plays, the more confidence he will get," said Dhoni of his Chennai Super Kings teammate. "He doubts himself sometimes but he is one youngster who can do well going forward."
With most of the Indian cricketers in their mid-20s, a greying 33-year old Dhoni has the tough task of nurturing their skills. The manner in which his side rose at Lord's though augers well for the team. After all, this was the first Test win for the side since November 1989 without the 'big-five' of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble.