Posted: 25 February 2008 at 3:31am
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24th feb articles........
Dhoni focuses on the positives
Nagraj Gollapudi at the SCG
February 24, 2008
Gautam Gambhir is currently the leading run-scorer in the CB series Getty Images
Instead of being disappointed over the narrow loss to Australia, Mahendra Singh Dhoni chose to focus on the positives; he praised his bowlers for recovering from the initial assault and lauded Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa for being undaunted by the big total following an early collapse.
"It was quite difficult to recover from the kind of the start," Dhoni said, after India fought back from a dismal 50 for 4 to come within 18 runs of the 317 Australia had amassed. "It was getting closer and closer with the way Gautam and Robin batted. We were fortunate enough to make it a close match."
Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain, also felt his bowlers, who have consistently pulled the team out of holes the batsmen had been creating during the series, relaxed after another bright start. "We started our bowling very well and Brett [Lee] once again showed the knack at getting breakthroughs," he said. "The game got closer than we'd have liked to. It's the first time our bowlers have been under a bit of pressure and we've got some work to do to make sure we get our stuff right."
Ponting was also unstinting in his praise for the architects of India's turnaround. "Gambhir and Uthappa played well," he said. "Gambhir worked the ball around well, especially to third man, hit some good clean shots, ran well. His innings was terrific."
Despite a disastrous start to their chase, India recovered with Gambhir and Dhoni steadying the innings with a 98-run stand. Once Dhoni fell to the accurate Lee, Uthappa - who made a brisk 51 - stitched together a valuable partnership that kept Indian hopes alive. "There was a time when we weren't thinking about getting 300 runs," Dhoni said. "We were just thinking of partnerships."
Dhoni also said that playing the extra batsman, instead of persisting with the five-bowler theory, had paid dividends as the part-time bowlers, Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag, were the most economical. "The way our part-timers took the responsibility and bowled well, I was quite happy."
The Australian batsmen went on the rampage right from the start, with 100 runs coming off the first 12 overs. Powered by Ponting's century, they became the first team in the tournament to go past the 300-mark. Dhoni, though, wasn't concerned over the big total posted and was satisfied with the bowlers' performance. "We did quite well to restrict them to 317 when at one stage it seemed it was going to 340 or even 350."
One worry for India throughout the series has been the inconsistency of some of the top-order batsmen. Though Dhoni wanted the big guns to contribute more, he defended their performances. "Both our openers have been getting out to good balls. It's not as if they are playing rash shots or being irresponsible," he said. "At the international level you have to accept that. The only thing you can do is give your 100% and they are doing that."
Asked whether there would be any changes at the top of the order, Dhoni was reluctant to play his card. "There are options to make Robin or Gautam [Gambhir] open, but the way Gautam is playing I don't want him to open," he said. "Also it depends on the pitches and the conditions, so I'm not sure on that."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo
BAD blood continued between Australia and India yesterday as two controversial incidents marred their eventful match at the SCG, with the visitors falling narrowly short in their pursuit of a mammoth 318-run total.
Andrew Symonds was again at the centre of drama when he was involved in a verbal skirmish with Ishant Sharma, while Indian captain Mahendra Dhoni may face sanctioning by the International Cricket Council after his gloves were seized for inspection by match referee Jeff Crowe.
Symonds angrily shot back at Sharma while walking back to the pavilion after the teenage paceman bowled him for 59 (49 balls). Sharma pointed Symonds back to the stands and gave him a mouthful, and umpires Daryl Harper and Tony Hill gave the bowler a formal warning after the incident in the 48th over.
Earlier, Dhoni brilliantly caught Adam Gilchrist after the opener got an inside edge off Shantha Sreesanth in the third over, diving to his left and grasping the ball centimetres from the turf to halt the batsman's carnage at 16 runs off seven balls.
But replays showed that the webbing on Dhoni's gloves appeared to be reinforced at the edges and with a loop, which would be a breach of the ICC's regulations.
Crowe rushed to the Indian team's dressing room, telling management Dhoni needed to change gloves. The skipper was given another pair, while Crowe took the white and camouflage gloves back to his room for an inspection.
Under the guidelines, the wicketkeeper's gloves "shall have no webbing between the fingers except joining index finger and thumb, where webbing may be inserted as a means of support.
"If used, the webbing shall be a single piece of non-stretch material which, although it may have facing material attached, shall have no reinforcement or tucks … [and] is taut when a hand wearing the glove has the thumb fully extended."
In this case, Dhoni may be in trouble because the loop did not appear taut and the webbing may have been reinforced, and the catch off Gilchrist was taken predominantly with the webbed section. It was unclear if the ICC had made a decision on the incident last night.
Ricky Ponting made 124 and led his team to a commanding 7-317 during the spiteful encounter and India bravely tried to set a new record for the biggest run chase at the ground.
India's bowlers will be nursing sore necks today after watching their deliveries repeatedly disappear into the stands. Australia began their innings at breakneck speed and never slowed down, as Matthew Hayden and Symonds chimed in with big-hitting half-centuries.