Even after winning the Test here by nine wickets India’s captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni declared that he did not want to even see such a wicket.
“It was not so easy. We were on the field for two-and-a-half days. The bowlers had to bowl very patiently. Ojha bowled 77. 2 overs and Ashwin 70 overs and they were supported well by the fast bowlers. As the game progressed the pitch got slower and slower. There was not much turn. The odd ball turned but there wasn’t enough bounce for the edge to carry to the slips. “It was the last session on the second day and first session on the third day that really shifted the game in our favour. Hopefully, in the coming matches we’ll see the wicket turn, right from the start, or as soon as possible so that the toss doesn’t become vital,” he said.
Quality of wicket: It was a good wicket initially, but it remained the same (for the remainder of the match). We needed only 77, but there was not much for the spinners and it became slightly better to bat against the fast bowlers. What we want to see is two good sides competing against each other with the toss taken out of the equation.
Turning point: What was important was to open up at least one end so that we could create a sense of panic. There was not much happening, you could play around with the field and force batsmen to commit mistakes. More often than not this happens at the start of the innings. As the batsman spends more time it becomes slightly easy for him. Our bowlers had bowled for a long time and you need a lot of stamina to do that. We didn’t want to use part-timers too much because we felt the wicket would not help them and we had to make sure the opposition did not score at a brisk pace. We were not sure when we would get them all out and then we would have to chase. We had to be calculative and it paid off.
On Pujara: He’s very calm and cool. He knows his role. He accepts responsibility, which is very important. After scoring 200-odd runs he was not shy to stand at short-leg. He’s among our best fielders in that position, close in. It would have been easy for him to say he was not feeling 100 per cent to stand at short-leg, but he was there. He has the temperament to play a big innings.
Zaheer and Yadav: What was impressive was the fast bowlers getting six wickets. It was not an ideal track for them. Their contribution was as important as the spinners. The first innings was challenging for England as the ball was turning. After that the wicket slowed down and they got used to the pace. That’s one of the main reasons why our bowlers had to battle really hard to get wickets in the second innings.
Follow-on decision: There was a thought to bat two-and-a-half sessions. We all knew that the wicket was becoming slow. Which meant it would’ve been good to give the bowlers a bit of rest and then come back and look to attack. We went for the easy option of making them follow on.
On Yuvraj: He looks very good. He batted really well. Those 70-odd runs were vital. In the first innings, he was not bowling in the areas where he should have, but in the second innings he was quite impressive. We need to see in the next three Tests, if we have to field for two-and-a-half days, it will take a toll on the body. Not only Yuvi, but everyone. He looks very fit as of now.