India captain M.S. Dhoni was a relieved man after the hard-fought tie here on Saturday.
“We would have loved to win, but the most important thing is to stay alive in the series. That is what this tie has done,” he said.
Dhoni said: “Jadeja and Ashwin batted really well. This game could have gone either way at that point. We needed hard work and application to fight back. There were instances where we could have settled the game in our favour. It is important for us to avail those opportunities. Hopefully we can do that in the coming two matches. Those two games will be very important for us.”
On winning his third successive toss and opting to chase again, Dhoni said: “The short grounds are something we have to keep in mind. We have got power hitters in our batting. We haven’t really fired. We haven’t availed the last 10 overs, yet we are getting very close to the targets.
“In a way you may say that we are taking some pressure off batsmen by not batting first and putting up a score for the bowlers to defend,” he said. “There is a certain brand of cricket that we play. It had been missing in the last few games. This time, lower in the order, Ashwin and Jadeja played that brand of cricket.”
Asked about Jadeja’s exceptional innings and the confidence it would give him, Dhoni replied, “We are hoping that he develops as a batsman. We can give players advice but it is important they execute plans in the middle. Hopefully he will get more confidence out of this. He has been very consistent in bowling and hopefully will contribute more in batting.”
Dhoni said: “Ashwin has also worked hard on his batting and has a lot more to offer in that department.”
On the failure of the frontline batsmen, Dhoni said: “In the middle overs, we haven’t got the partnerships that are needed. We have been falling short by 25-30 runs because of that.”
Bowling at the death was another area he wanted India to improve on. Coach Fletcher, Dhoni said, was contributing to the side in a quiet manner.
One that got away
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum said: “The one that got away. A great game of cricket, though. It ebbed and flowed the whole way through that second innings. Credit to India, when they looked as if they were out of the game, they flexed their muscle a little bit and got themselves back into it.
“And just when we thought we had it again, they came back. Playing the innings that Jadeja played at the end was pretty awesome. We had our chances, there is no doubting that — a few catches and a few run out opportunities.”
On New Zealand’s bowling tactics, McCullum said, “I think it was more the execution, to be honest. Our plan was very much o keep the ball out of Jadeja’s arc.”
McCullum also felt that after Martin Guptill’s century, New Zealand should have got around 350. “There was a period when we played some pretty silly shots.”