“Statistics are not important either for me or for my teammates. What is important is that we are doing well now,” said the Indian skipper M.S. Dhoni after he became the most successful Indian captain in Test cricket with 22 wins from 45 matches, eclipsing Saurav Ganguly’s 21 from 49 Tests.
“I am happy with the way we have performed so far in the first two Tests. Against England we did not score enough runs for the bowlers to have any scope. So winning is not just about batting or bowling, but clicking as a complete unit,” Dhoni said.
When asked whether he anticipated such a meek surrender by the Aussies or did it have anything to do with the pitch, the Indian captain said: “I thought the pitches were very good both in Chennai and Hyderabad.
“It is not only about what kind of wickets you play on, but also about how well the bowlers bowl and how well the batsmen perform.
“Surprisingly the hard ball was not spinning much but the soft ball did more. That is why we opted for Ishant Sharma this morning. And I think it was an important breakthrough when he got rid of Shane Watson,” he said.
On Harbhajan Singh, Dhoni said that the pressure was always more on someone who was making a comeback because of higher expectations.
“I thought he bowled well in the second innings of the first Test and also here. He is showing improvement.
“But it is true that that I could not give him long spells at times,” he said.
Questioned whether it had become a trend of late for most teams to do well at home and struggle abroad, Dhoni said that it was always a challenge to play abroad.
The Indian captain was in his element when asked about Cheteshwar Pujara’s comment that he had to score runs abroad to be adjudged a better Test player.
“I think he is reading too many media reports. You need to be in the present. It is important to stay focused and get rid of negative thoughts,” he said with a big smile.
Questioned as to what sort of advice he would give to Aussie captain Michael Clarke, a beaming Dhoni replied: “I can say certainly that screaming will not help. Other than that I don’t want to give too much advice — like how to play spinners for example. You have to respect your opponents and be patient.”
On why he preferred to skip the customary pre-match briefing as captain, this was Dhoni’s reply: “I know people love to see me. But, I always felt that since not many media conferences are arranged now apart from these sort of briefings, it is important for players like Pujara to express themselves and face the media. You know how difficult it is to handle the Indian media,” he said.
Meanwhile, Australian captain Michael Clarke said the performance of his team was unacceptable but he also emphasised that he didn’t want to take any credit away from India.
“It is very disappointing. I was concerned about the poor batting in the first innings. To score 237 in the first innings here was unacceptable. A lot of hard work has to be done or else we won’t get better results,” Clarke said.
“The performances so far in the two Tests are nowhere near the standard we set for ourselves in the recent past,” he said.
“It does take some skill to play spinners. But patience plays a huge part and so does discipline,” Clarke said.
He said that the Indians showed the right way to bat — especially in the first session on the second day when the focus was not on scoring runs but on retaining wickets.
Clarke was also unhappy with stroke selection of his batsmen in this Test. “It was horrible — more so when the batting conditions were better in the first innings,” he said.
“Frankly, both areas — batting and bowling — are of concern to us now. And it has nothing to do with pitch as both Chennai and Hyderabad had good Test wickets,” he said.
On his dismissal to left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, a smiling Clarke was quick to say: “Well bowled. I wish I had hit it. Definitely, good batsmen need to put such balls away. I thought he bowled well.”