India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni took a dig at the top-order batsmen stating that it was the fifth bowler and the lower order who were scoring all the runs after another abject surrender against England in the fourth Test.
Asked if the second innings effort was disappointing, a curt Dhoni replied,”I think even in the first innings we weren’t up t the mark in the batting department. I feel so far in the series our batting had not really clicked. Our batting needs to improve. There has been a lot of talk about our bowling but it’s our batting that has to improve.
“We have played with a fifth bowler in the series and that fifth bowler has often scored runs. If you look at our batting, our Nos 7,8,9 have all scored while the top-order has not scored runs. Our lower-order has camouflaged the failure of our top-order.”
Questioned if he could pinpoint a reason, the skipper said,”It’s a difficult one to know what’s gone wrong. A few of them are going through a lean patch. Outside India, this group has gone well until here. The wickets have been good for batting but we haven’t applied ourselves.”
Quizzed on the poor form of Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, Dhoni didn’t forget to mention the consistent poor starts that has put a lot of pressure on the Saurashtra batsman.
“Consistently we are exposing Pujara in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th over and he might feel that he is better off opening the batting. Our openers haven’t given us good enough start and that has put a lot of pressure on Pujara coming in at No 3, who has never felt settled.”
He termed Kohli’s poor form as one of the lean patches that is bound to come in an international player’s career.
“Virat has had a lovely spell for two and half years and this is something that will happen in international cricket. But I am not really worried as he is middling the ball well,” said the skipper.
Dhoni termed the five-Test series as a good exposure as “it is more important to spent time in the middle irrespective of how much you spent time at the nets.”
He was happy that Varun Aaron’s extra pace gives him an option to “attack batsmen with bouncers and experiment with field settings.”
About the positives that has emerged from the Test, Dhoni probably gave a tongue-in-cheek reply.
“We will get two extra days of rest,” he said.
Expectedly, England captain Alastair Cook was ecstatic after finishing off the match under two days.
“You don’t often get nine wickets in a session. The buzz was fantastic. We didn’t think we’d get it done but it’s great to do it today,” Cook said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
What Cook found more praiseworthy was a half-fit Anderson and Moeen Ali bowling the team to victory in absence of Man-of-the-match Stuart Broad, who has broken a nose after being hit by Varun Aaron bouncer.
“Jimmy hasn’t been very well, so for him to bowl like he did, and not having Stuart, was a great effort. The work Moeen is doing, I’ve never seen a guy learn as much in such a short space of time. When the wicket has had something in it, he’s been fantastic. It was outstanding bowling on the first morning and we really got ahead of the game.”
Asked about Broad’s availability in the Oval Test, Cook was non-committal.
“He’s got a broken nose and Cook says “fingers crossed” that he hasn’t broken a cheek bone. Touch and go for The Oval it sounds. England will also hope Anderson recovers from his illness.”
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