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by Chetan Narula Tuesday 30 December 2014
The fifth day of the third Test between Australia and India was set up to be a dramatic one.
Rain however played spoilsport in the first session and delayed the declaration. It only came at lunch time as the hosts finished their second innings at 318 for nine at lunch and set India a target of 384 runs.
The visitors finished at 174 for six with Dhoni himself holding fort at stumps.
Later in the press conference, he did not give any hints of his impending retirement from Test cricket with immediate effect. Instead he was only too happy to talk about the match and everything else.
“Their lower order contributed again and they had enough score to defend. It was very tough to score over 300 runs on this kind of wicket in one day. But overall I am quite happy. We lost early wickets.” said Dhoni.
“We like to test ourselves in such situations and we put pressure on ourselves, and there wasn’t enough pressure on Australia. Overall it was a good performance by the team,” he added.
India struggled after tea when they lost Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara in one passage of play, but then Dhoni and R Ashwin played out the last hour without too much fuss.
The players shook hands with four overs remaining the day.
When asked if Australia played it safe by declaring late, Dhoni replied, “It is their territory, so let them decide what they want to do. It was up to them when they wanted to declare.”
“To some extent the reason for late declaration was that in Adelaide the wicket was assisting the spinners and if we had a big partnership going here and played the number of overs, the result would have been in our favour.”
“That’s what it suggests from the outside, so that would have played on their mind when deciding on the declaration,” he added.
Australian skipper Steve Smith meanwhile admitted that there were a few factors taken into consideration about the time of the declaration.
The hosts won back the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with their 2-0 lead going into the final Test in Sydney.
“It would have been nice to have won, that's for sure,” said Smith.
“But it’s very satisfying to win the series and reclaim the trophy again. We had lost badly the last time but it was obviously in completely different conditions in India. We still have a lot of work to do in those conditions.”, added Smith.
“We do play very well in our own backyard. It's nice to have that trophy back now and hopefully the next time we go back to India, we can do a better job over there.”
Australia’s delayed declaration allowed Shaun Marsh to close on to a hundred but he couldn’t finish the job as he was run-out on 99.
“It was obviously very disappointing for him,” said the young skipper referring to Shaun Marsh’s run-out.
“I ran out a message about 20 minutes earlier and said 'you have got until lunch’. I think that's when he started to go after the bowlers a little bit. He played very well, which is very positive signs for us.”
“I changed my mind a couple of times about the declaration. I wasn't quite sure when to pull out. But I didn't really want to give India a crack with the batsmen they had in the shed and how good that wicket was,” he added.
When asked if the close Adelaide run-chase played on to the decision for delaying the declaration, Smith replied, “Yeah a little bit, and I think the wicket out here was much better than Adelaide.”
“At least that pitch broke up and spun a lot for Nathan Lyon, which created opportunities there. We certainly didn’t have that out here. It was a very good wicket to bat on and we didn’t want to give them an opportunity.”
Australia have announced their team for the next Test in Sydney, retaining the same squad with the addition of Ashton Agar.
“We’ll just have to wait and see what the wicket is like,” Smith said, when asked about the possibility of playing two spinners in the fourth Test.
“We’re not too sure what it will be like. Last year it had a bit of grass on it and previously it’s been quite a spin friendly wicket. So I think it’s more of a see how the wicket is and if he’s needed then he can play.”, said the Australian skipper.
© Cricket World 2014