Dhoni, Ponting all praise for Laxman

Mohali: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday heaped praise on senior batsman V V S Laxman for single-handedly guiding the country to a memorable one-wicket win over Australia in the first Test here today.

“VVS was really remarkable in this match. He helped the team overcome a batting collapse. Laxman remained on crease, hit boundaries, rotated strike and kept the scoreboard moving all the time,” Dhoni said after the match.

“For me, it was a very special innings by Laxman,” he added.

Laxman battled severe back-pain to play a gritty unbeaten 73 off 79 balls and produced an 81-run partnership with Ishant Sharma to script the win, which sent the hosts one-up in the two-match series.

Dhoni also made a special mention of Ishant, who contributed 31 crucial runs.

“Ishant showed good character when the batting collapse took place. It was no doubt a big task. Only two-three batsmen remained and Laxman was on the other end. But they supported Laxman well and that worked for us,” he said.

“Our heart rate went up. Nobody could imagine such an ending in four-and-a-half days when the match started,” he added.

Dhoni also praised his bowlers, saying, “Bowlers also played their roles and brought us back into the game.”

Australian captain Ricky Ponting admitted that Laxman made the difference.

“Laxman’s unbeaten innings was outstanding. But our performance was also satisfying, boys played well. We failed to take a couple of wickets quickly,” he said.

“Now we will prepare for the next match. We will take rest tomorrow and then start the preparation,” he added.

Man-of-the-Match, paceman Zaheer Khan who scalped eight wickets in the match and also completed 250 Test wickets, was yet to recover from the hangover.

“Everyone was trying to keep their calm during those close moments, trying to remain composed. Everybody in the dressing room was nervous and was behaving in their won ways,” Zaheer said.

Asked about his personal achievement, the left-arm pacer said, “It is the result of a lot of hardworks. Few days back I was struggling with shoulder problems. I am happy that the struggles have paid off.”