Monday 15 December 2008 

Dhoni: We Raised Our Game When We Needed To

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has praised his side for raising their game at the perfect moment which enabled them to pull off a six-wicket win over England in the opening Test in Chennai.

Sachin Tendulkar registered his 41st Test century as India reached 387 for four, the fourth highest successful Test run chase in history to win the match and go 1-0 up in the two-match series.

"For the first three days, we were not brilliant in the field, we did not get the wickets and when we had to bat we did not bat that well," he said. "It was important for us to play a big innings, play with a lot of intensity and I believe that in the last two days the amount of sessions that we have won, is one of the reasons why we have won this Test match.

"We have seen over the years in India especially the last two days, the game can change very quickly. We raised our standard and we performed when it was really needed."

England captain Kevin Pietersen was disappointed with the way that his side had failed to defend a sizeable total but was proud of the way in which both sides performed in the first Test since the Mumbai terror attacks in late November.

"It is a very bitter pill to swallow," he said. "I think that both teams can be very proud about the way that we have gone about this Test, to start Test match cricket up again two weeks after the tragedy was a good effort by both sets of players.

"After day one if we knew we had to defend 250 on the final day we would have taken that, but (Virender) Sehwag started the innings for them fantastically last night, and then the little master from Mumbai, as a skipper, as a team and as a bowling unit, trying to set fields to a magician like that is pretty difficult. We always try our hearts out - we didn’t come here to compete we came here to win we thought we put ourselves in a real good position on day five but unfortunately we got pipped today."

Man of the match Sehwag was delighted that his overnight prediction that if India batted for 80-90 overs they would win came true.

"I said if we bat 80 or 90 overs then we will easily win the game and Sachin and Yuvraj (Singh) did that," he said. "This is Sachin's best innings that I have ever seen. I still remember when we played Pakistan and we lost by just 30 runs because Sachin got out but this time he made sure he stayed there till the end and finished the game."

Dhoni also praised the way in which Tendulkar and Yuvraj, who was not out on 85 at stumps, closed the game out.

"Sachin was brilliant, Yuvraj was amazing because there was pressure. I feel there was something in the wicket , so it was a tough call for them whether to attack or to play defensive but they performed when it was really needed for the side."

The second Test begins in Mohali on December 19th.

© Cricket World 2008


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