India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni lauded the opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar for laying the foundation of the 53-run victory over New Zealand in the first cricket one-dayer in Napier.
Dhoni,who himself played a crucial unbeaten knock of 84 runs at the number three position,said the difference between victory and defeat today was the 69-run opening stand between Sehwag and Tendulkar which allowed the middle-order batsmen to free their arms in the later stages of the innings.
“I think the start is important for us. Over the years we have seen if we get a decent start,we have got the firepower to capitalise on that and specially with the 20 overs of power-play it gets really very difficult for the bowlers to contain us.
“If we get a good start more often then not we will get a good score which our bowlers can defend,” he said after the match.
“The openers role is very important,but I think Raina’s knock was fabulous. He came in at a time when he had to decide whether to go after the bowling or not. He went by his instinct,whatever he saw,he played according to the merit of the ball. I think it was a brilliant innings,” he added.
Asked whether the Indians came out with a different game-plan today after the two consecutive Twenty20 defeats at the hands of the hosts,he said,”During the toss I have said it has happened to us in the past that in the Twenty20 games we tend to go out all guns blazing and at times we fall short of the target,but our 50 overs approach has been good.
“We also committed mistakes but overall our approach has been good till now. We made a few errors in the middle but overall I am quite happy with the performance.”
Dhoni,who was adjudged man-of-the-match for his tactical innings,also lauded pacer Praveen Kumar (2/28) for his exploits with the ball in his first outing on Kiwi pitches.
“He (Praveen) is one bowler who does very well in conditions where there is something for him. He can swing the ball both ways and is a street smart cricketer. He knows his limitations and that’s the best part,” he said.
Meanwhile,New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori blamed his bowlers for the defeat and said his side was a far better bowling unit then what they have displayed today.
“Right from the start India outplayed us. We just couldn’t get right with the ball. I was pretty disappointed with the way we bowled,we are a lot better bowling unit than what we have displayed today. We were also a bit sloppy on the field and lacked execution,” Vettori said.
He praised Raina and said the left-hander’s blazing 66 off 49 deliveries took the game away from them. “Raina’s innings probably brought little bit of momentum back in the middle stages. He played exceptionally well and took the game away from us. Dhoni,Sehwag are quality players,if you give them a chance,they will grab it,” Vettori said.
Asked if the Duckworth-Lewis method made the run chase difficult for his side,Vettori said,”No,we got our figures wrong. We were not looking forward to chasing 105 off 7. We put ourselves in the situation with the way we bowled.”
“I suppose losing a couple of wickets in the beginning also didn’t help us,because when you are chasing a big target,you need to get a good start,” he added.