“The Test series was alive till the last day, and it’s going the same way in the one-dayers too. It will be very interesting. I am just hoping it will be the perfect day for cricket, may the best team win. Every game is important, irrespective of whether it’s the series-decider or the first game. It’s because of the first four games that the fifth game has become so interesting. It’s an ideal set-up for the whole series, the whole tour.”
India had South Africa on the mat at 118 for five, but allowed the Proteas to post 265 for seven with Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh both having off-days. “It does become tough because we always play with just four bowlers. Players do have off-days, but so long as they perform consistently in between, I suppose that is alright,” Dhoni observed.
“Of course, if two of them don’t have an off-day together, it’s better. But it always happens in cricket. You have to keep your intensity up, otherwise the opposition can sneak ahead.”
Dhoni didn’t seem too impressed by the playing surface at St George’s Park. “It was slower than some of the wickets in India,” he noted. “It was a bit of a worry for the batsmen because you have to get used to the pace of the wicket, and only then can you score. Once we got those five wickets, we needed that one more wicket, which we couldn’t get. I used eight bowlers, which was also a sign that the captain was desperate for one more wicket then. Their batsmen batted really well, they kept the good deliveries out and scored at a brisk pace.”
Virat Kohli has got starts throughout the series, and kicked on on Friday to make an unbeaten 87, albeit in a losing cause, creating a selectorial headache ahead of the World Cup. “It’s good for us,” said Dhoni. “The more the number of batsmen in form, the better it is. It’s a big positive for us, and we are hoping he keeps scoring.”
Saying that, India’s batting has been a big letdown. “Most of the middle-order batsmen have not really clicked,” Dhoni conceded. “That’s a bit of a worry. But I feel the sub-continent wickets will be very different, the scenario will be different. More often than not, you will see high-scoring games back home in India. It’s a bit of a different scenario here, where 250-odd seems like 300.”