Mirpur (The Telegraph): India started their Asia Cup campaign with a comprehensive 50-run victory over Sri Lanka. India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, however, felt that the bowlers should tighten their line in the upcoming matches. Dhoni also said that it was “difficult” to defend totals at the Shere-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur because of a “very fast outfield.”
The following are excerpts
Mahendra Singh Dhoni: It was difficult to bowl at that point of time when Mahela (Jayawardene) was batting really well. The wicket had changed a bit and the ball was coming on to the bat nicely. So, the batsmen were finding it easy and they were able to play big strokes, especially with the new ball. Not to forget, Praveen had an off day today (Tuesday). In the first three overs, he was expensive. Then they went after Jadeja. At that point of time, I was effectively two bowlers short and I had to bring the part-timers into the attack. It was also important for us to not let them score freely. I had to use seven bowlers to restrict them.
But full credit to Praveen… He came back nicely and bowled well in his second spell. He was also nicely supported by Irfan (Pathan) and Vinay (Kumar). Hopefully, we will tighten up our bowling. We are a side who have always depended on our top-order batsmen to give us good starts. If the openers fail, we expect that one of the top-four batsmen will stand up and do the task.
Gautam batted sensibly and Virat also supported him well. They also ran well between the wickets. In the first 75 runs of their partnership, there were not many boundaries. They ran the singles and twos... Then they went for their shots and stayed there till the end. It gave a nice platform for us to play our shots. It was difficult to bowl second on this ground. The outfield is really fast and the ball is coming onto the bat pretty well.
So bowlers will have to be at their best. If you are one or two bowlers short, then it becomes difficult for you. Hopefully, as the tournament progresses, it will slow down a bit and it won’t be as good to bat on in the second innings as it is right now.
In Australia also, we had lost just one match against Sri Lanka. It was not that we played badly against them. Today, they missed two of their key players, (Lasith) Malinga and (Angelo) Mathews. So it was difficult for them.
Mahela Jayawardene: I think when you are chasing a target of 305, the players, who get starts, should show more responsibility and finish the game off. Obviously, it was a bad shot from me. In the batting Powerplay, we lost two set batsmen. We made quite a few mistakes… We did not bat well and neither did the bowlers perform properly. We leaked some 15 runs in the field. There was nothing wrong with the wicket. We had them under the ropes but it was crucial that we keep our heads together and needed to finish off the chase, which we didn’t do.
Initially, India set it up nicely with Gautam and Virat. They held the innings together and preserved their wickets. We knew that they will come hard at us. I thought we gave away 15-20 runs more. But it is difficult to bowl to Suresh and Dhoni when they are in such good form. Our fielding was not up to the mark. So, we need to tighten up. In these sort of tournaments, we cannot afford to make so many mistakes. We need to go back and have a meeting and come back stronger against Pakistan.
But then, we can take many positives out of this game. The new guys did well. I thought that Suranga bowled well. Prasanna too bowled in the right areas. From a personal point of view, I have quite enjoyed batting up the order. I am much more relaxed… I can play my shots. It is quite easy to bat with (Tillekaratne Dilshan) and Kumar (Sangakkara). But as I said, I am disappointed with the way I got out, I played a pretty bad shot and I have to take a lot of responsibility for playing that kind of a shot.
Virat Kohli: I am very happy. Considering the kind of Australian conditions we came from, it was really satisfying that I was able to adjust so quickly on this track. It also feels good to start the tournament on a winning note. I am hitting the ball well and I want to make the most of this good form because there will be a bad patch at some point...
We have got a lot of big partnerships between us and we don’t need to tell each other what to do. We know each other’s game really well. We know that if one is attacking, the other would try to drop anchor.
When the wicket is slow, you have to control your urge to hit boundaries and take the odd singles and twos. If you can play sensibly, you will see the result in your favour at the end of the day... I never expected to get the vice-captaincy at the age of 23. It’s a great honour for me. I will try to contribute as much as possible and take more responsibility.