Dhoni: ‘Bring on the bounce’

2010-12-30 00:00

“IT will be interesting to see what kind of wicket we get in Cape Town. The greener it is, the better for us.”

That wasn’t one of Graeme Smith’s pace bowlers talking. Rather, it was a delighted MS Dhoni, as he revelled in his bowlers thriving in foreign conditions.

“We said before this match that we would enjoy a bit of life in the pitch to help us get 20 wickets, and the bowlers certainly delivered,” Dhoni reflected.

“Our bowlers are ‘skill bowlers’, in that they use swing and movement more than pace,” he explained.

Certainly, the Indian bowlers looked a different beast with Zaheer Khan back in charge, and Dhoni said the veteran was a real asset.

“He makes the coach’s job much easier because he is showing the youngsters the way. He is a real pleasure to have in the squad, and when he plays he makes a big difference.”

The other plus for Dhoni was the fired-up showing by Sree Sreesanth in the second innings, as he took three big wickets, while also getting up the nose of the South African captain.

“As long as he doesn’t cross the given guidelines, then I don’t think there is anything wrong with what he is doing. You can’t say there is a line between the guidelines. I thought he did very well, and he also got through his overs better here,” Dhoni said.

The Proteas, through Paul Harris on the third day, had condemned Sreesanth’s verbal volley at Smith.

That in itself is quite ironic, because the Proteas haven’t been shy of handing out a few “verbals” during the series.

Harris himself gave Gautam Gambhir an earful in the first Test, and any lip-reader would be hard- pressed to be convinced that none of the South African slow-bowler’s utterances had a “personal” spin.

Indeed, it seems the Proteas have been quick to give it, but not that keen to receive it.

Smith himself refused to be drawn on the matter, simply saying it was “between me and Sreesanth”.

He added that whatever was said didn’t contribute to his crucial demise on the third evening, but evidence suggests otherwise.

That a veteran of Smith’s standing would allow Sreesanth to throw him off-kilter is almost laughable.

Having been introduced to the dark art of sledging by Messrs Warne and McGrath, he really ought to know better.

Dhoni, for his part, laughed it off.

“I guess it is important that I try to keep him [Sreesanth] under control. It is important for him, for me, for the team, the umpires, the public and even the opposition.”

Under Gary Kirsten, who Dhoni describes as “very hard to replace”, the Indians have learnt how to scrap — and also how to find a way to in all conditions.

And they are not done yet.

Cape Town will be no place for the faint-hearted come the New Year.

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