Melbourne: The Border-Gavaskar Trophy has gone out of their grips and at a loss to explain the Indian cricket team's performance, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni today said his side has been finding ways to trouble itself on an already tough tour.
Chasing 384 for a win of the fifth and final day at the MCG, Dhoni and company finished on 174 for six before the two captains decided to shake hands. Australia retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy and Dhoni said they are themselves to be blamed for the result.
MS Dhoni tries a sweep during his knock against Australia on Day 5 of the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne on Tuesday. Pic/ PTI
"We have found ways to trouble ourselves. In all the Test matches so far, I felt we have got good partnerships going and all of a sudden we lose a few wickets and that puts pressure on us," Dhoni said in the post-match presentation. "And also there were quite a few loose shots that were played and I feel that in a game like this it is very important that once you are on the top, you maintain that momentum and you carry it forward. Make sure that the batsman who comes in doesn't have too much pressure to face."
After losing the first Test in Adelaide by 48 runs and conceding the second game in Brisbane by four wickets, 'Captain Cool' said it was a relief to draw the third match. "Yes, quite happy with a draw. The only reason being that we ended up in a mess in the last day of the play. But I think the bowlers did a very good job," he said.
"(Ravichandran) Ashwin bowled really well. Especially in the second innings, we really bowled a good line and length and because of that we were in a position to dictate terms. There was of course lower-order partnership between the opposition batsman and because of that we were taken out of the game."
Starting at 261 for seven, the hosts declared only after playing on despite two rain interventions with the score reading 318 for nine. Ask Dhoni about it and he opines that Shaun Marsh, run out on 99, would have been the reason.
"I don't really want to comment on that, the reason being it's their stuff. They would be thinking about it. But it gets a bit difficult if you declare slightly late. And when one of your batsman reaches 90 then you have to wait for him. But apart from that I don't want to say much," he said.
Smith, standing in his third Test as captain after regular skipper Michale Clarke was forced with an injury, believed otherwise and said that cricket is a team game. "It was all about the series to be honest rather than Shaun (Marsh). That's the way we play. It's a team game. We felt if we left a little bit for them they would have gone after it," Smith said.
The record fourth-wicket 262-run partnership between Virat Kohli (169) and Ajinkya Rahane (147) was the highlight of India's first innings and Dhoni was all praise for the batting duo.
"It was a fantastic display of batting. What was really good was that once they were set they played their shots and took the opposition on which I think is very important over here. Especially when the ball is coming on to the bat and you are looking to attack, there are gaps to be pierced. I felt that was something that both of them did really well," he said.
"And also the fact that once you are set and score a big hundred, it's important to convert it into a 150 or more and I believe they did really well. Overall it was a display of that. Virat (Kohli) I feel is batting extremely well. He is aggressive and takes the opposition on and at the same time hits some fabulous shots, he added.
Dhoni though emphasized that it's a young Indian side and critics should give time before drawing immediate conclusions. "I kept telling this even in the press conferences that we need a bit of time with this new side. Not everybody is experienced and as you saw when there is a bit of pressure they start to bat differently," he said.
"But what we have seen is that over the last six months when there has been pressure they have been individuals who have stood up to the situation. It's just a matter of time before we start delivering. Winning those 45 minutes of cricket that we have really lost so far in the series.
"It is important also that we really don't have an all-rounder, so the four bowlers have do that extra bit. Looking at the amount of bowlers that we play with we are happy with their performance and definitely in this Test match I felt they learnt something that will be valuable for them and that's bowling the right length," he added.
Dhoni's opposite number, Smith though was just happy to savour his first series win as captain. "It was tough five days for us on a pretty flat wicket. We started the game really well, we probably missed a few opportunities in the field. A couple of dropped catches that cost us throughout the game and India still played some really good cricket. Disappointed not to get a win in the end but it's another series win for us," Smith said.