9:18 am - Wednesday September 26, 2018

It’s a test of character for us: Dhoni

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M.S. Dhoni said that the remainder of the five-match Test series will be a ‘test of character’ for his squad. “The first Test was a draw and then we won the second and England won here. Now, we have two more Tests to go. It’s a test of character for us, because we have not played a five-match series, but England has played earlier. So it will test our character and fitness,” Dhoni said here on Thursday.

The Indian captain stressed that the team lost the third Test because the bowlers struggled and the batsmen were tentative against Moeen Ali. “To win Test matches we need to take 20 wickets. But in this particular game we were not able to take even 10 wickets, and that was a setback. “Our batsmen played the fast bowlers better, but we allowed Moeen to bowl his line and length. There was considerable amount of wear and tear on the pitch and that went his way. I just felt that we could have been a bit more positive against him,” Dhoni said.

Not easy

Asked about the top-order, especially Shikhar Dhawan’s form, Dhoni replied: “(Murali) Vijay is batting well at the moment and Shikhar is finding his tune now. It is not easy to come and score runs every time; you need to work hard.

The English bowlers were bowling well, especially (James) Anderson. They exactly know where to bowl in their home conditions. It will be a challenge for Shikhar to score runs here.”

Dhoni conceded that Bhuvneshwar Kumar looked flat in his spells.

“Bhuvi seemed to be a bit tired. He got the right length in the first two Tests, but here he was slightly short. Apart from that I am quite happy with the effort put in by the fast bowlers.

It was a different kind of wicket, where you had to hit the deck hard. That’s where I found Pankaj (Singh) very impressive. He was unlucky not to get a few wickets,” the Indian captain said. He also backed his three slip fielders — Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja. “We need to improve (catching) but those three fielders standing at slips were three of the best we have got,” Dhoni said.

India’s woes worsened when Dhoni confirmed that Ishant Sharma will not be fit for the fourth Test at Old Trafford from August 7. Dhoni said: “Definitely, he won’t be fit for the next game. Never really had a discussion with our physio, but as of now he won’t be available for the fourth Test.”

Ojha to replace Saha

Wriddhiman Saha will miss the rest of the Test series in England, due to injury. A BCCI press-release stated that ‘Naman Ojha has been picked as his replacement. Ojha will join the (Test) squad at the earliest.’

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