It was another high for India’s most successful captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The 31-year-old scripted his 22nd Test win in 45 matches as a captain, going past the record of Sourav Ganguly, who led to India to victory in 21 Tests. But Dhoni, who according to VVS Laxman is the best guy to lead, thinks this record is overrated.
“If you see our dressing room now, we are not bothered about who has won how more matches. What’s important is to win Test matches. The more consistent we become the better it is for the side. What’s important is we have done really well in the last two matches,” he said at the post-match media conference.
He began his Test captaincy on a winning note when he led India to victory over South Africa in three days in 2008 at Kanpur. In his long journey of five years, Dhoni has had ups and downs. Out of the 45 Tests, he has suffered 12 losses. The worst was the 2011 series in England and Australia where India lost all the eight Tests. He was firm in his view that if India should play on a designer’s wicket in the home series. His plan backfired against the Alastair Cook-led England when he lost the series 1-2.
“Against England we were not at our best. We were not putting huge totals on the board for our bowlers to be aggressive. All these things play a crucial part. Once you score runs, automatically you will see bowlers doing well. It works the other way as well, if the bowlers are bowling well it helps your batting also,” he said.
With two more Tests to go, Dhoni will be hoping for a clean sweep against Australia. “Overall we are playing well at the moment. Also the fifth-bowler strategy is working till the time we are playing in the sub-continent,” he added.
Dhoni defended preparing designer wickets in the home series. “The question often asked when we go to England or Australia is ‘why we don’t play on sporting wickets back home in India?’ It’s the same for everyone. You have to realise 80 or 70 per cent of the matches you play in your home conditions. You have to be good there. As I always say, once you go abroad the conditions are different and that’s a challenge. That’s what improves our Test cricket over a period of time. The sides that have players who have toured the sub-continent or us who have played in other countries, have been able to perform consistently.”
The spinners, according to Dhoni, got the grip once the ball was old and soft. “In the second session there was hardly any turn for the spinners. The odd ball used to turn but overall, that session we struggled a bit. All of a sudden the ball became soft and once we came back after tea, we saw that spinners were able to get a bit of turn and put pressure on the opposition. In the same way it was important we don’t give away too many runs to the Australian side in the second innings.”
On Harbhajan Singh, Dhoni said the off-spinner is improving. “In the last three matches, he has shown good improvement. With the Australians having lots of left-handers, having two off-spinners helps.”