LONDON (AFP): India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni warned against “panic” measures as his team aimed to salvage some pride against England in the fourth and final Test at The Oval starting here on Thursday.
England, an unbeatable 3-0 up in the series, dethroned India as the world’s number one Test side with a mammoth innings and 242 run win at Edgbaston last week — the latest of a trio of ever larger victories.
There have been suggestions this series has marked a ‘watershed’ in Indian cricket and that now is the time for rebuilding to start.
But Dhoni, speaking to reporters at The Oval on Wednesday, said: “More often than not, with the kind of side we have, we put up a good show.
“What’s important is what’s needed. It’s important to stick to the basics and keep things very simple.”
A defiant Dhoni added: “We are not really sleeping so we don’t need a wake-up call.
“The past two years have been great. We have to look to the future as well but at the same time the important thing is not to panic because sides can push the panic button too soon.
“It is a sport at the end of the day, you go through tough times,” explained Dhoni, who earlier this year led India to World Cup glory.
“Challenges make life interesting. If you only achieve success it becomes quite easy for you. It’s the same in cricket or any other sport. It’s just a phase we’re going through. We are learning a lot.”
Dhoni said the fates had conspired against the tourists, particularly losing strike bowler Zaheer Khan with hamstring and then ankle injuries that meant the left arm quick was restricted to fewer than 14 overs, all bowled in the first Test, this series.
“We have missed Zaheer Khan because he has got plenty of experience and can move the ball,” explained Dhoni. “He can plan a batsman out, which is important in these circumstances.”
India have failed to make the benchmark score of 300 so far this series — and indeed have yet to compile as many as the 294 runs England’s Alastair Cook managed by himself at Edgbaston in any of their six innings this campaign.
For a side boasting the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Venkatsai Laxman, as well as the recently fit-again Virender Sehwag — out for a ‘king pair’ at Edgbaston — that is a deeply depressing statistic.
“We are a side more known for our batting so the priority for us will be to put runs on the board,” Dhoni said.
“Virender Sehwag plays his own game, he backs himself to play shots, so he may get out. You can say it (Edgbaston) was one of those games. But his approach will definitely help us win games.”