India\'s ploy to prepare a spinning track might have backfired as England registered a 10-wicket win in the second Test.
Mumbai: India's ploy to prepare a spinning track might have backfired as England registered a 10-wicket win in the second Test, but captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he would like to have a similar pitch for the third game, starting at Kolkata on December 5.
"Of course, we want a similar track as that's where our speciality is. What's the point playing on flat tracks and trying to win the toss and just batting for 3 or 4 days," said Dhoni after England inflicted a humiliating defeat on India in the second Test here to level the four-Test series 1-1.
"You want to face challenges in Test cricket and these are the sort of wickets that push you towards that, so definitely all the wickets should be like that," he added.
Insisting that he would like a typical sub-continental wicket in Kolkata as well, Dhoni said, "I would like a typical sub-continental wicket, which should turn from the first day as I have been saying, so that there is no importance of toss and whichever team plays better cricket wins the game.
"You feel a bit disappointed (at losing) but the good thing about these wickets is no side is guaranteed to win and have to play well to win. That's why I call for a track that starts to turn early."
Dhoni had asked for a turning track despite India winning the first Test by nine wickets on a low and slow pitch at Ahmedabad's Motera stadium to go 1-0 up in the series. Though his demand was met by the Wankhede curator, the hosts slumped to a huge defeat, unable to cope up with the left-arm spin of Monty Panesar and offspinner Graeme Swann.
Heaping praise on Panesar, who grabbed 11 wickets in the match, Dhoni said: "Monty bowled exceptionally well. Spinners from both the sides bowled well but it was different to what Monty bowled. He was drawing the batsman to come on to the front foot more and was getting some turn too."
"If you see specially in this Test match, Monty bowled differently from all the other [spin] bowlers. Others were getting some turn and bounce but Monty was someone who was bowling at real pace, close to 90-95 kmph or even above that.
Still he was able to get some [quick] turn. I think he was the one who had a big impact on the game," said Dhoni.
"If you compare all the other bowlers, most of them got the wickets but did not trouble the batsmen as much as Monty did, so I think a big credit goes to him. If you get performances like these the margin of defeats can be bigger."
Dhoni also added that in comparison to Panesar, India's spin trio of Pragyan Ojha, Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh bowled a bit too short.
The Indian skipper appreciated the efforts of the batsmen - Cheteshwar Pujara, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen - all of whom batted well on a track that was assisting the bowlers.
"Credit goes to Pujara from our side who batted really well [in making 135 in the first innings]. And Pietersen and Cook batted really well, played off the back-foot really well. I wish we [our bowlers] could have been a bit fuller and asked them to drive a bit more.
"We also tried to bowl fast but did not get the same sort of purchase from the wicket as Monty got. The way he bowled put a lot of pressure on the batsmen and he did not give us anything easy to score off.
"The thing we could have done slightly better is let them drive a bit more than what we did because if you bowl short on a wicket that has a bit of bounce you (batsmen) get more time especially if you bowl slow," explained Dhoni.
Dhoni said barring Pietersen and Cook, there was not much difference between the two teams in the batting department.
"Pietersen and Cook batted really well, but apart from that both the scorecards resembled each other, one or two big innings and the rest all phone numbers....9, 8, 3, 5 or something like that. It [batting] will be tough if you play on wickets like this but that's what Test cricket is all about."
Applauding the Wankhede track, Dhoni said such wickets test the batsmen's skills.
"As far as turning tracks go this was a very good wicket. Test matches should be held on such wickets as the toss does not become a vital factor. The wicket was turning from day one and both the teams have equal chance and the toss' importance becomes minimal."
Dhoni defended his team's star-studded batting line-up, which collapsed for 142 in the second innings with all the top order batsmen, barring opener Gautam Gambhir (65) failing to reach double figures.
"You need big performances and in this game the big performances came from the English side. You have to start fresh in every game. We have experienced cricketers in the team who will do well in the coming games.
"We thought we will bat better than what we did. We did not bat the way we would have liked. Yes, we did not perform to the extent we could have or what reflects on paper when it comes to our batting line up. We will innovate in the coming games and also the wicket will be slightly different. We will see how it goes."
Asked whether the team will go in with the same bowling combination of three spinners and a pacer in Kolkata also, Dhoni said he preferred to wait till he saw the wicket.
"Let's see the wicket in Kolkata. If you remember at the pre-match conference [in Mumbai] when I said we will go in with 2-2 combination but we had a closer look at the wicket and felt may be the third spinner would be a better option.
"Thankfully we were right. It was a one-dimensional attack when you look at it on paper but I think that's what was needed because in the last innings you hardly saw the fast bowlers doing a lot of bowling," said Dhoni.
Dhoni ruled out any major changes in the team. "We have replacements but you don't chop and change or rotate the players just on the basis of one or two Test matches. You have to give them a fair run. That's what it's all about. Otherwise we will keep changing players in every game. It's good to give the players a fair amount of games so that they are also comfortable and are not thinking about the selections," he insisted.
The Indian team selection for the remaining two Tests will be held in Mumbai on Tuesday. On why he did not recall Jonny Bairstow after he was wrongly given out in the second innings, Dhoni said, "Is it only my job to call back everyone or something that the umpires will also do?
"There are replays that show the batsman is lbw why can't opposition say...no, no my batsman is out, you come back and somebody will go [out to bat]. Umpires are getting handsome payments and are supposed to take some decisions."