India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Sunday made it clear that he is not bothered about his tactics in fourth and final Test at Nagpur being slammed as defensive by the Australians. Results, he says, are what matter to him at the end of the day.
"It is about winning the game. There have been strategies that have not been liked by opposition captains. But the thing that you want to do is to go out there and look to win games. What strategies they are doesn't matter," Dhoni said after the fourth day's play in the fourth Test.
India, leading 1-0, are well on course to beating Australia in a Test series for the first time since 2001 and regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. At close on day four, Australia were 13 for no loss, needing another 369 runs in a maximum of 90 overs, on a pitch getting increasingly difficult for the batsmen.
The newly-appointed Test captain made it clear that he did not want to risk losing the Test, thereby giving Australia a chance to level the series. He referred to an old saying from the Hindu mythological epic Mahabharat, where the guru (coach Dronacharya) tells his wards to concentrate on the bird's eye during a bow and arrow practice session and not look at anything else, which he explained in Hindi.
"Ek Chhoti sa baat bolna chahunga. Mahabharat main bola gaya tha ki pakshi jo hoti hai us pakshi ki aankh dekho. Border-Gavaskar trophy jo hai who pakshi ki aankh hai aur hum sirf us par concentrate kar rahe hai and kya strategy se aayegi us par hum zyada concentrate nahi kar rahe hai. (In the Mahabharat, there was a saying which said concentrate on the eye of the bird. Similarly, for us, the Border-Gavaskar trophy is the bird's eye and we are concentrating only on winning it and not on what strategy we are using.)"
The wicketkeeper-batsman believes that India are sitting pretty in the match and the Aussies can only salvage a draw and not win the game.
"We have got a nice score. In 90 overs they supposed to chase around 360 at four runs per over. That is a tough task, because the number of overs is too many and there is rough in the wicket at the same time. After a while the ball starts reversing as it gets older; so it is a very difficult task, but at the same time we will look to do what we are supposed to and not worry what their plan is. We will look to do the basics right," Dhoni said.
Another comforting fact for the Indians is Australia's highest successful run chase against India is 342 for 8, at Perth in 1977-78.
Dhoni was quite clear about his plans if the Aussies get off to a good start on the final day and make a dash for the total.
"Hindi mein bolte hai na baar baar dal to negative bowling hai, sahi samay pe thoda bahar dala to sahi strategy hai. (In Hindi they say if you keep bowling wide then it is negative bowling, but if you bowl wide at the right time then is the right strategy)," he said, leaving the Aussie journalists wondering.
He also wondered why a talented batting line-up like Australia could not counter India's strategy of keeping a tight line and length outside the off-stump.
"Maybe, they could have done a different if we were bowling a bit away from them. We never saw anything like shuffling or trying to hit the ball on the on-side. There was no real effort from them. We were bowling wide but we did get a few edges and whatever runs they scored were behind the wicket. It was good for us they were going for the strokes and we had a chance of picking up wickets. Once there was pressure we could put more pressure by bringing in spinners and bowling in the rough," he reasoned.
Dhoni is hoping the wearing fifth day pitch will help the Indian spinners more than it did in the first innings.
"The match changes quite quickly on the fifth day in Indian conditions. As you saw today, we lost six wickets quickly; so, that always plays on your mind when you are chasing around four runs per over. It is not that you have to bat only for 40 or 50 overs, you have to bat for the 90 overs. After a few overs the ball also gets soft and there is a lot more wear and tear on the pitch.
"I think it is quite tough but not impossible. In cricket I think everything is possible, whether you have to get five runs per over, four runs per over or three runs per over. It will be interesting tomorrow, a lot will depend on what kind of start we get or the opponent gets. Hopefully, it will be a nice game and a nice ending to the Border-Gavaskar Trophy," he concluded.