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'Never saw the Aussies getting so outplayed'

cricket Updated: Oct 21, 2008 19:16 IST
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India's stand-in Test skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni today rubbed salt to Australia's wound, saying he has never seen the world champions getting so throughly outplayed.

"Honestly speaking, we have not seen this before. I mean in their first innings, they were 22 for two wickets after 13 overs. I was so surprised that I told Rahul (Dravid) that you don't see things like that very often," Dhoni said.

Incidentally, Zaheer Khan too rubbed Ponting and his men the wrong way by his observation that this was the most defensive Australian side ever.

Personally, Dhoni could do no wrong in the second Test as he struck half centuries in both the innings and then led India to their biggest win against the Aussies that put the hosts 1-0 up in the four-match series.

To top it all, Dhoni also walked away with the Man of the Match award as reward for his excellent show.

Dhoni may have been surprised by Australia's approach to the Mohali Test but the star stumper-batsman asserted India still could not afford to lower the guard.

"Well, they had a few bad games so far. But that does not mean they have lost edge. They are still the number one team in the work, a very talented side," Dhoni said, sending out a warning against complacency.

"They would come back strongly, that's what you expect from them. I'm expecting good cricket in the next two Test matches as well," he added.

Dhoni could not thank his bowlers enough and singled out Zaheer Khan for special praise.

"We hit the right areas, got to swing the ball and did an excellent job with reverse swing. When the ball was hard, it hurried to the batsman but once it was 45-50 over-old, it was tough for the spinners to get that bounce and zing.

"But still whenever they got opportunity, they made it count. All four bowlers shared the responsibility well and did an excellent job.

"I think Zaheer is bowling at his peak. He has got great commitment and fortunately there is no injury woes for him either. He was bowling his heart out. Even in tracks where he does not get much help, you can be sure that he would give more than 100 per cent. He is in brilliant form and I hope he would continue it in the entire series," Dhoni said.

Drafted in playing XI at the eleventh hour after regular skipper Anil Kumble was ruled out with a shoulder injury, Amit Mishra turned out India's secret weapon in the Test and Dhoni said he had enough faith in the Haryana leggie.

"I believe in each and every member of the squad. When Anil Bhai is not playing, you know you won't get those wickets from him. So you turn to whoever comes as his replacement. Doubting anyone's ability doesn't help.

"I knew Amit may not have 500-600 Test wickets behind him but he is experienced enough. He has played lot of domestic cricket and has the variation," he said.

"Amit is different from others. He is very slow and gives lot of flights. He is not quick in the air and you have to be very careful in shot selection and you have to use your feet against him. I think he would learn more, especially to use the slider rather than his leg-spin all the time," he said.

On his personal form, Dhoni said it felt great to play his natural, aggressive cricket in the second innings.

"It was the perfect scenario to just go out and play my natural game. We got a good start, the track was placid and the ball old. It was just the perfect occasion for my sort of batting," said the swashbuckler.

"At times, I didn't play my natural game because I had to look at the scenario and play accordingly. But my actual strength is my stroke-playing and in situation like this, one should always play aggressively," Dhoni said.

In this match, Sachin Tendulkar overcame Brian Lara and became the first person to score 12,000 Test runs while retiring senior Sourav Ganguly slammed his 16th century in the longer version of the game, notching up his 7000th run in the process.

Asked what would be the special memory for him in this match, Dhoni said, "It's Sourav's 7000 Test run. Since he is playing his last series, he is just going out and enjoying the game, playing without any pressure. That's how you want to see him play. He is very different from others."