Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni described his team’s 95-run win over England in the second Test at Lord’s as a special one, and said the victory was a “memorable” one for him because he does not forsee himself to play a five-day game again at the ‘Home of Cricket’.
India clinched their first Test win at the historic Lord’s in nearly three decades after riding on Ishant Sharma’s inspired spell of fast bowling to demolish England by 95 runs and take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
India registered their first Test win at Lord’s in 28 years – only second win in 17 Tests here – after ‘Kapil Dev’s team achieved the feat back in June 1986 winning by five wickets.
“It is a special win here yes, but every Test win is special in its own way. I remember the 2007 series when the match ended in a draw because of bad light and S Sreesanth and I were batting at that time. We saved the Test and were victorious in that series.
“Every Test is special and it is great to win outside India. It will be my last Test at Lord’s because I don’t see myself coming back here in a few years. So yes, it is a very memorable victory,” Dhoni said at the post-match press conference.
Ishant, whose consistency has always been under the scanner, delivered when it mattered most, as he grabbed a career-best figures of seven for 74 to bowl out England for 223 in pursuit of a competitive victory target of 319.
From a relatively comfortable 173 for four, the last six wickets fell for only 50 runs with the final five coming in only 12.2 overs after lunch on an absorbing fifth day’s play.
Dhoni lauded his young and inexperienced team and said the win was just reward for the visitors.
“It is a result of hard work and effort of the team,” said Dhoni about his young team’s achievements.
“The result will not always be in your favour. But in the last couple of series outside India, we were in a position to seal victories in one Test each in both South Africa and New Zealand. Somehow we were not able to do that here but I felt the bowlers put in great efforts in both those matches. It was important to keep working hard and giving the same kind of preparation and thinking into every game.
“And because of that preparation and thinking, we have sealed the first Test victory overseas for this young team. It was fantastic to see the kind of effort and determination from this team and overall a very memorable game of cricket for us,” he added.
The hero of the day was Ishant who bettered his previous tally of six for 51 against New Zealand at Wellington early this year to help his side end victorious.
“There was pressure on us because with just 200 more runs needed we knew there will certainly be a winner in this game. We had a fantastic chance to win this Test at the start of play today (Monday). They had a very good partnership going but once we got a wicket we made sure we put pressure on the opposition,” Dhoni said.
Ishant bounced out England on Monday as the hosts lost five wickets for just 50 runs in less than 13 overs. The medium pacer picked four wickets for nine runs off just 21 balls in the post-lunch session.
“It was very difficult to convince him (Ishant) to bowl short. Ishant is someone who gives 100 per cent whatever be the situation, and he works hard on his fitness and his bowling. So it was hard to convince him to bowl short consistently,” Dhoni said.
“I set the field accordingly so he was forced to bowl short. It was the strategy for him and it worked well. Sometimes it works because the opposition is playing shots and at other times it doesn’t. Today it worked and we got quite a few wickets in this way,” he said.
“Ishant is a tall bowler and he can make good use of the bounce. So he has to bowl a lot of overs in the overseas matches and he should use the bouncer and short stuff in his armoury to trouble the batsmen. Modern day cricket has changed and batsmen don’t always duck to the bouncer. Even we encourage our own batsmen to play attacking shots if they can assess the bounce,” Dhoni added.
One of the trademarks of this series has been the way tail-enders have batted and for India be it Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Mohammad Shami in both the Tests at Trent Bridge and Lord’s.
And Dhoni was quick to praise the contributions of the lower-order.
“Jadeja is a very talented cricketer. But at many times he feels a lot of pressure. The way he played in the second innings, such knocks will give him much confidence and maybe he will settle down a lot in the future. But the number where he bats, lower down the order, I want him to play attacking cricket because he is more comfortable that way.
“Also, we have seen many lower-order batsmen have been able to change the course of the game playing attacking cricket,” said the skipper.
“Contributions from the lower-order are very important. If you lose top five-six batsmen, then Bhuvi can contribute and Shami has scored runs as well. In modern cricket, number 10 and 11 batsmen scoring runs is very vital irrespective of what top order scores. The last 30-60 runs added by lower order is very important. However that doesn’t mean the top eight batsmen score only 100 runs,” he added.
Dhoni also credited his young team for the way they fought in this Test match to seal a win for India.
“There was a lot of pressure on us in this Test match. We lost a crucial toss and had to fight those first few hours when there was moisture on the wicket. I felt that the openers did a brilliant job along with the number three batsman and then we scored runs thanks to Ajinkya Rahane.
“Then Bhuvi bowled well in the first innings and Ishant in the second innings. If you see the 18-member squad is completely different from when we weren’t winning any overseas matches so this is a very special win,” Dhoni signed off.