Ahead of their crucial Test match against England at the Eden Gardens here, Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he was hoping for a big contribution from his openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.
“We all know about the ability of our openers. If both of them can score in the same innings it will be a big plus for us. We don’t want to put extra pressure on them but back them for the game they are used to play,” Dhoni told mediapersons here on the eve of the match.
“The first innings in any Test match is very crucial as it sets up the game. We have seen the game change a lot in the last two days in India. So it is very important to be at par in the first two-three days and assess the pitch and the wear and tear it suffers,” he said.
He was expecting young guns Cheteswar Pujara and Virat Kohli to come good in the game.
Dhoni also said the wicket would not assist the spinners in the first two days and the pacers are likely to get some help from the pitch initially.
“The wicket looks good. We will have to see how the pitch behaves. It depends a lot on the clay content. It won’t help the spinner much initially,” Dhoni said Tuesday in the customary match-eve press meet.
“Fast bowlers this time of the year get some help initially. The role of fast bowlers will be very crucial in this game,” said Dhoni.
India pacers Zaheer Khan, Ashok Dinda and Ishant Sharma were seen slogging hard at the nets bowling to different batsmen.
The India skipper also defended his demand for a spinning track, saying the host team had the right to exploit the home advantage. “When we come to India, we want to play on turning tracks. We want to play on wickets that suit the subcontinent.”
Dhoni did not agree that the 10-wicket defeat in the second Test at Mumbai on a spinning wicket nixed his theory.
“We want to play on turning tracks irrespective of the result. Home advantage is a big part of the game. If you don’t take home advantage, then what is the use of playing around the world, in different conditions?” argued Dhoni.
“It is not that England or Australia have not lost games under seaming and swinging conditions. But they still go with pitches that suit them which are fast and seaming wickets. It is not about whether you lose or win a game, it is about playing in conditions according to your strength. That is what home advantage is all about.”
Dhoni’s insistence on a square turner from Day 1 of the Eden Test had triggered a controversy when the ground’s veteran curator Prabir Mukherjee called it “immoral and illogical” and threatened to quit. But he was persuaded to continue by Cricket Association of Bengal chief Jagmohan Dalmiya.
Describing the Eden crowd as “cricket lovers”, Dhoni said the game will witness a big crowd.
“The pitch here is good for stroke making, the outfield is quick and the cricket lovers will enjoy the game. People of Kolkata are cricket lovers and I am looking forward to a big crowd here,” added Dhoni.
The four-match Test series is currently tied 1-1.