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India’s man on the move

Captain MS Dhoni, Man of the Match for his show, says that there is no replacement for the seniors. Subhash Rajta tells more.

cricket Updated: Oct 10, 2007 02:49 IST
Subhash Rajta

The return of Murali Kartik from almost nowhere raised many an eyebrow. The left arm spinner therefore would have certainly been under some pressure to justify his recall to the squad. But he would go to sleep with a big smile of satisfaction after hearing how generous the two captains were in their praise for him.

"He was brilliant. He bowled really well and I am really pleased with his performance. Actually, I wanted him in the team, and had he not performed, I would have been on the receiving end. I am just glad with the way he bowled," said India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Later, Australian skipper Ricky Ponting endorsed this view when he admitted that his batsmen found it tough to take runs off Kartik.

No replacements for seniors
In another typically no-nonsense statement, possibly with a view to settling the talk of 'pressure' and 'non-performance' pertaining to the seniors once and for all, Dhoni said they (the senior batsmen) were excellent and doing really well.

Probably referring to the controversy generated following Sourav Ganguly's missing out on the Hyderabad one-dayer (BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah had needlessly remarked in the press box that Ganguly had been dropped for the game, something Dhoni later said wasn't true --- Ganguly had only been rested as a precautionary measure following a hamstring injury),

Dhoni said it wasn't that the seniors weren't performing; but it was a matter of grooming juniors alongside.
"We actually don't have replacements for them, which makes it all the more important to groom juniors," he said, giving major credit for today's win to the opening stand between Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. "They batted really well in tough conditions and it was their partnership that allowed us to unleash a big charge towards the end," he said.

Sachin strains knee
On a rather unfortunate note, Tendulkar strained his knee en route to his 79 and didn't come out to field. "He has a mild knee strain, which will be assessed tomorrow. He should be fine," Indian team physiotherapist John Gloster told a bunch of anxious press people.

Under pressure, India held nerve
Ponting admitted that India responded well under pressure on the day, at least with the ball. "They played pretty well today. They got off to a good start, kept wickets in hand and launched a big assault towards the end. Then their bowlers responded well when the pressure was really on. We lost the plot as we lost important wickets at crucial junctures," said Ponting, who was visibly disappointed with the way the Aussies failed to make a whitewash of this series, as many believed they would.