Hyderabad: On a high after two consecutive Test wins, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni today admitted that he had started questioning himself and was under a lot of pressure when the team was on a losing spree against England and Australia recently.
“It becomes tough. You start questioning yourself. That’s the reason all of us are human beings and the only ones who say that they don’t get bothered (by defeats) are the ones who lie,” Dhoni told reporters at the post-match media conference after winning the second Test against Australia.
“If you go through a tough situation, it’s bound to happen. You will feel the pressure but at the end of the day, you want to do well for your country. In that scenario, nothing works for you but you have to remain focused and not let the extra negative thoughts to creep in.
“As human beings, why we are so developed is because of the curiosity and emotional connect in our nature,” he replied to a query on how he was feeling after 0-8 whitewash in England and Australia.
Reminded about becoming the Indian skipper with most number of Test wins (22), surpassing Sourav Ganguly, Dhoni seemed as if he couldn’t care less. “I think it’s over-rated and hyped. Because, the way I see the dressing room now, I don’t see them (players) bothered about who has won how many games. What’s important is to win Test matches. The more consistent we are, better it is for the side. Numbers don’t really matter to us.”
There has been a trend of late about teams’ winning in their own backyard and Dhoni attributed it to the amount of cricket one plays at home. “I am always asked a question in England and Australia about why we don’t prepare sporting wickets. One has to realise that we play 80 per cent of our cricket at home and we
have to be really good in those conditions. And then when we play abroad, the conditions are extremely different and that’s a challenge. If every wicket becomes same, then Test cricket won’t be challenging,” he insisted.
Dhoni felt that the senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh‘s form was slowly improving. “When a big player, who has got so many international wickets tries to make a comeback and cement his place in the side, it’s more difficult than that of a junior. Simply because of the number of runs he has scored or the wickets he has taken.
“But Harbhajan has shown improvement. People were not happy with his bowling against England and I was also not able to give him more overs. That happens when you have three spinners. One is bound to be under-utilised.
“Then came the 100th Test and there was a lot of pressure on him. He bowled well in the second innings in Chennai. Over here also, he has shown improvement bowling in one area. Having two off-spinners with so many left-handers in the opposition side is certainly working for us,” said Dhoni.
Cheteshwar Pujara had recently said that his real test will be in South Africa on bouncy tracks and Dhoni gave a tongue-in-cheek reply, saying, “He watches the TV channels too much because that’s what they all say!”
On a serious note, he added, “I always believe in living in the present. Of course, he has set his standards but he needs to enjoy the moment. Why can’t we just let him live with the enjoyment of this particular match and I am sure he will score runs in future too.”
Dhoni attributed the recent home series loss against England to the team’s poor batting performance. “That’s what cricket is all about. Against England, we were not putting enough runs on the board for bowlers to be aggressive. All these things play crucial part as you can’t just rely on your batting or bowling alone. If you score runs, bowlers automatically bowl well and vice-versa.
“I am happy that we are playing really well with the fifth bowler strategy working for us,” he said.
Dhoni said that contrary to popular belief that spinners extract more turn when the ball is pretty new, his bowlers got more turn once the ball became soft. “It was only when the ball became soft, they (spinners) started getting turn. Normally, people say that spinners are able to get turn when the ball is new and hard. We needed time to understand that. But overall, it was a good wicket.”
Asked what would be his advice to his Australian counterpart, Michael Clarke, Dhoni smiled and replied, “I will just like to say that screaming won’t help. Beyond that, I won’t poke my nose as you need to respect your opponents in whatever situation they are. You won’t like to give advice to the Australians as they are very competitive. They can come back strongly.”
The skipper, however, said that Australian youngsters who are touring the sub-continent for the first time would be well-equipped when they come around next time. “They now have a pool of players who have played in the sub-continent. And when they come back to play in Sri Lanka, Pakistan or Bangladesh, they will be better equipped to handle the conditions. It’s a win-win situation for them. They just have to be patient,” he said.
Dhoni has now started a trend of not coming for the pre-match press conferences and said that in Mohali, it is likely to be Pujara who will address the media prior to the game. “People love me out here! Only reason, I don’t come up at the pre-match press conferences is because I would like to expose some of the others to express what their views are on the game. Also I won’t have anything new to say beyond what I said over here. Also it’s difficult to handle Indian media.”