Despite the emphatic margin of India’s triumph, wrought about in familiar conditions, it was no less a toil for the Indian bowlers, who were continuously on the field for nearly two-and-a half days battling the patience of Alastair Cook, a painstakingly slow strip and injudicious umpiring.
Hence, a sigh of relief marked skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who minced no words on the unfriendliness of the Motera strip. “I don’t want to see this pitch again. It was not easy. As the game progressed, the pitch got slower and slower. I don’t think there was much turn. There wasn’t enough turn and bounce for the spinners
“The odd ball turned but there wasn’t enough bounce for the edge to carry to the slip fielder. It was about keeping one or two deliveries out and you were set for the game. It was the last session on the second day and first session on the third day that really shifted the game in our favour,” he said.
Such wickets, Dhoni felt, weren’t advisable for the game. “Hopefully in the coming matches we’ll see the wicket turn, right from start, or as soon as possible so that the toss doesn’t become vital. The game may end in 3.5 days, but both teams will have an equal opportunity to win the game. What we want to see is two good sides competing against each other with the toss taken out of the equation,” the skipper opined.
At the same time, he asserted he wasn’t advocating under-cooked rank-turners. “What you don’t want is ridges in the wicket and then one ball hits your head and next your toe,” he specified.
Moreover, they were fatigued by two-and-a-half days on the field. “We were on the field for two-and-a-half days. The bowlers had to bowl patiently. Ojha bowled close to 80 overs, Ashwin bowled 70 overs. They were supported well by fast bowlers. Zaheer put in a lot of effort, we’ve seen Umesh Yadav improve, he’s bowling really quick. The contribution of the fast bowlers was important. They gave us the breakthrough when it was needed,” he said.
The key was patience and inducing mistake from the English batsmen. “What was important was to open up at least one end so that we could create a false sense of panic. There was not much happening but you can play around with the field and force batsmen to commit a mistake. More often than not, that happens at the start of a batsman’s innings,” he said.
Dhoni had to keep a leash on the scoring rate, for chasing in the last innings on the sub-continent can be tricky. “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. Our bowlers had bowled for a long time, you need a lot of stamina to do that,” he said.
He wasn’t pleased with the umpiring either, as when he remarked, “It was hard work for bowlers, especially if you are expected to take more than 10 wickets to get the team out.”