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Despite winning, Dhoni unhappy with Motera pitch



AHMEDABAD: India might have made merry at the Motera pitch while outplaying England in the opening Test but skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was still not impressed with the track here and said he wants all the wickets to turn from the first ball itself.

"I don't even want to see this wicket. There wasn't enough turn and bounce for the spinners. Hopefully in the coming matches we'll see the wicket turn, right from start, or as soon as possible so that the toss doesn't become vital," Dhoni said.

"What we want to see is two good sides competing against each other with the toss taken out of the equation," he added. "I don't think the match referee can question a pitch just because it's turning. When the wicket seams right from the first delivery nobody asks questions," the India captain said.

"What you don't want is ridges in the wicket and then one ball hits your head and next your toe."

He was not worried that matches, on such turning tracks, would end in three or four days as he felt the importance of the toss would be gone.

"At times, in the subcontinent, on pitches like this, the toss becomes vital. The only way to take the toss out of the equation is to have pitches that turn right from the start. The game may end in 3.5 days, but both teams will have an equal opportunity to win the game," said Dhoni.

Dhoni said his team had to really work hard for victory here though they made England follow on 330 runs behind. The visiting team's captain Alastair Cook (176) and wicket keeper Matt Prior (91) led a splendid fight back in the second innings.

"It was not so easy. We were on the field for two, two-and-a-half days. The bowlers had to bowl very patiently. (Pragyan) Ojha bowled close to 80 overs, (Ravichandran) Ashwin bowled 72 overs. And they were supported well by the fast bowlers," Dhoni said.

"As the game progressed the pitch got slower and slower. I don't think there was much turn. The odd ball turned but there wasn't enough bounce for the edge to carry to the slip fielder. It was about keeping one or two deliveries out and you were set for the game."

Dhoni said the turning point in the match, after India ran up a huge score, came in the final session of day two and first session of day three as England folded up for under 200.

"It was the last session on the second day and first session on the third day that really shifted the game in our favour," said Dhoni.

The Indian skipper also praised his fast bowlers and said they contributed in equal measure to what the two spinners did.

"Our fast bowlers bowled really well. Zaheer Khan put in a lot of effort, we've seen Umesh improve, he's bowling real quick. The contribution of the fast bowlers was really important. They gave us the breakthrough when it was really needed.

"What was impressive was the fast bowlers getting six wickets. It was not an ideal track for fast bowlers to get wickets. Their contribution was as important as the spinners.

"The first innings was challenging for England as the ball was turning. After that the wicket slowed down and they got used to the pace. That's one of the main reasons why our bowlers had to battle really hard to get wickets in the second innings," he explained.

He defended England's strategy of going in with three fast bowlers in the game and leaving out left arm spinner Monty Panesar which has been criticised.

"That's their strength. They need to back their strength. I think it was the right decision. They have a very good bowling attack. You can say this was one off day for them. They have the right kind of talent. Swann is one of the best off-spinners in the world," Dhoni said.

"Maybe they were a bit disheartened by seeing the lack of bounce. When you come from England where the keeper collects the ball at a good height and you play here, where the ball goes to the keeper in two bounces, it's a bit discouraging."

He also praised Cheteshwar Pujara who secured the man of the match award for his unbeaten stints of 206 and 41 in the two innings.

"He's very calm and cool. He knows his role. He accepts responsibility, which is very important. After scoring 200-odd runs he was not shy to stand at short-leg.

"It would have been easy for him to say he was not feeling 100 per cent to stand at short leg, but he was there. He has the temperament to play big innings. Plenty of positives. He just needs to keep doing the things he's doing," said the India wicketkeeper.

Dhoni conceded the team was mulling not to enforce the follow on as the wicket had slowed down and his bowlers needed rest but went ahead and asked England to bat again.

"There was a thought to bat two sessions. We all knew that the wicket was slowing. Which meant it would've been good to give the bowlers a bit of rest and then come back and look to attack. We went for the easy option of making them follow on," he said.

Dhoni said there was no concern about Yuvraj Singh's fitness, being on the field for more than two days so soon after recovering from cancer only a few months ago.

"He looks very good. He batted really well. Those 70-odd runs were vital. In the first innings he was not bowling in the areas where he should be but in the second innings he was quite impressive.

"He bowled pretty well. Also we need to see in the next three Tests, if we have to field 2.5 days, it will take a toll on the body. Not only Yuvi, but everyone. He looks very fit as of now," he remarked. 

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