London, July 26: Bemoaning the loss of key players to injuries midway through the match, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni also held the “variable bounce” at the Lord's pitch responsible for his team's massive defeat in the first Test against England.
”What we saw different from the 2007 series this time was the variable bounce. It became tough. In 2007, there was much more bounce but it was even too. It was interesting to see where I was standing as a keeper then. Zaheer bowls his overs from where I stand, and I used to do so by being 2-3 yards behind in 2007. Here I was standing 2-3 yards in front,” Dhoni said after the 196-run loss match on Monday.
”It had an impact. In 2007 you could leave the deliveries. Here the bounce was very uneven. You couldn't leave each delivery because a few balls really kept low and never really carried. You had to look to play each delivery and when it bounced it was difficult.”
What also prevented India from playing to their full potential were injuries to key players.
”Everything (that) could have gone wrong, went wrong. It was tough for batsmen to bat at different slots, it was tough for bowlers with only three left (in Zaheer Khan's absence),” said Dhoni.
”Zaheer's absence made it tough to manage bowlers. With just three bowlers left and the ball not turning that much, we didn't have too many options... our resources were limited.
”As for batters, it was difficult for them to bat at different slots they are not used to. Dravid, Gambhir and Sachin all had added pressure of not batting at their usual slots,” Dhoni said.
Due to Gautam Gambhir's injury, Rahul Dravid came out as an opener in the second innings. Sachin Tendulkar, because of his viral infection, could only bat at number five.
Talking about Zaheer, who left the field on the first morning itself due to a hamstring strain, Dhoni said the seamer's absence was felt.
”In Zaheer's absence, it became tough to manage three bowlers. We didn't have too many options. If we had one extra bowler, things could have been different.
”We have three days (before the second Test). I am not 100 per cent sure if he would play. We don't want to risk an individual. There is a lot of cricket we are playing and there is no point in risking a guy for just a game.”
Asked to explain why Zaheer's fitness was not checked in time, Dhoni said: “Hamstring injury is a difficult one—a fast bowler doesn't have to bowl to get such an injury. He could be running after the ball and still get injured.”
Most of India's top order batsmen seemed to have got out playing rash shots, but Dhoni didn't think so.
”You have your own game plan. When you play a shot, if it doesn't succeed, it might appear a rash stroke. But every batsman has his own game plan,” Dhoni said.
Asked about Sachin Tendulkar and his recovery from viral infection, the skipper said: “He was much better but not 100 per cent. He felt it in both innings. After his first knock, he was feeling quite weak. I haven't asked him but he must have been disappointed. He always gets disappointed when he doesn't score.”
Dhoni, who is yet to lose a series, was upbeat about his team's performance in the forthcoming Tests.
”There is a lot of Test cricket left in the series. Batters and bowlers will improve as the series progresses.”
The skipper was all praise for England pacer Stuart Broad and wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior.
”He bowled the right length and up to the batsmen and made them to drive. His knock was also a great help and just shows what a good performer he is. As for Prior, he had a good partnership going and it changed the complexion of the game.” PTI