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Updated: November 20, 2009 20:32 IST

Dhoni hails Gambhir

Special Correspondent
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MS Dhoni
The Hindu
MS Dhoni

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was cautious when asked about the nature of the pitch for the first Test. He replied, “The wicket was a bit flat but it is not the flattest that I have seen. I have played on wickets flatter than this Motera pitch.

The spinners were getting turn but due to the slow nature of the wicket they did not look impressive. At times you come across wickets that are good for the batsmen and you got to accept it.”

Dhoni also defended his bowlers. “I am happy with the way our spinners have performed. Even the Lankan spinners, including legendary Muttaih Muralitharan, didn’t pick many wickets. It was difficult for our bowlers to bowl on a placid track. Perhaps we could have bowled better but I won't be critical of our bowlers.”

The Indian captain was appreciative of Gautam Gambhir's effort. “Gambhir is an aggressive batsman and kept the pressure on the Lankan bowlers. He got his footwork right and played for the team. We would have loved to see him bat through to the end of the day though.”

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said failure to hold on to half-chances might have cost his side a win in the first Test. “We picked up four Indian wickets before lunch on day one but then we let our grip slip. There were a few chances here and there but we failed to grab them.”

He conceded that the refusal of the pitch to disintegrate surprised him. “Nobody expected the wicket to be so flat. You expect batsmen to score runs on such a wicket and that’s what batters on both sides did.”

Sangakkara was appreciative of the effort from his bowlers. “Our seamers led by Chanaka Welegedara, who was told at the last minute that he would be playing, did the bulk of the bowling. Welegedara showed a lot of character. I give full credit to them for the way they bowled on this flat surface. The spinners too bowled lengthy spells. I thought Rangana (Herath) was the better of the two spinners. But in the end, the pitch didn’t have much in it for the bowlers.”

On senior batsman Mahela Jayawardene's big double hundred, he said, “Mahela (Jayawardene) played a brilliant knock. (Tillakaratne) Dilshan too came up with something special and it was a very important knock

for Prasanna (Jayawardene). I think the presence of wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva has put a lot of pressure on Prasanna but he has responded brilliantly.”

Despite Sri Lanka gaining a huge first innings lead and forcing India to bat for a long period to save the Test, Sangakkara said the teams would have no advantage going into the second Test at Kanpur. “It’s all even. We have to start from the scratch,” he said.

Keywords: IndiaSri LankaTest match

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