Mirpur: Even though India comfortably won by 50 runs in their Asia Cup opener against Sri Lanka, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni feels that it is "difficult" to defend totals at the Shere-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur considering it has a "very fast outfield."
"It is a difficult to bowl second on this ground. The outfield is really fast and the ball is coming onto the bat pretty well. So bowlers will have to be at their best when bowling second. Hopefully, as the tournament progresses, it will slow down a bit," Dhoni said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Dhoni did admit that he was a bit worried when Mahela Jayawardene was sending the Indian bowlers on a leatherhunt.
"It was difficult considering that Mahela was batting really well. The wicket had changed a bit and the ball was coming onto the bat nicely. Praveen had an off-day today and Jadeja also went for runs. At that time, I was effectively two bowlers short and had to bring back my part-timers. Credit to Praveen that he came back well in the second spell and was nicely supported by Irfan and Vinay," the skipper said.
Dhoni lauded the 205-run second wicket partnership between Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir.
"We have always depended on our top-order batsmen to give us good starts. Gautam batted really well and Virat also ran well between the wickets. If you look at their partnership, there were many singles and twos in the first 75 runs. They had to stay till the end and they did that. It set up a nice platform for me and Raina to play our shots," the skipper said.
Asked about the confidence gained from beating Sri Lanka,he said, "In Australia also, we had lost just one match against them. But today they missed two of their key players Malinga and Mathews. So it was difficult for them."
Man-of-the-match Virat Kohli said that the most satisfying aspect about the century was the quick adjustment he had to make batting on a sub-continent track having played in Australia recently.
"I am very happy that I have been able to adjust quickly on this track."
The 23-year-old has now hit his 10th ODI hundred having played only 83 matches. When reminded, he said, "I am hitting the ball well and want to make the most of this good formbecause there will be a bad patch at some point of time."
Kohli has had some good partnerships with Gautam Gambhir in the past and he feels that their understanding of each other's game has helped them forge a successful partnership.
"We know each other's game well. We know that if one is attacking, the other would try to drop anchor. We have had so many successful partnerships that we don't need to tell each other what to do. When the wicket is slow, you have to control your urge to hit boundaries and take singles and twos."
Asked about the additional responsibility of vice-captaincy, Kohli said, "I never expected to get vice-captaincy at the age of 23. It's a great honour and I will try to contribute as much as possible."
Meanwhile, a disappointed Sri Lankan captain Jayawardene admitted that he played a bad shot to get out at a crucial stage.
"When you are chasing a total like 304, the guys who get starts have to finish off. It was a bad shot from me. We chased really well as there was nothing wrong with the wicket. We needed to finish off the chase which we didn't do. We made too many mistakes on the field which we can't afford in a tournament where one defeat can change the course," Jayawardene said.
Jaywardene praised Gambhir and Kohli for their double hundred partnership which set the game up nice for India.
"Initially, they set it up nicely with Gautam and Virat. I thought we gave away 15-20 runs more, it is difficult to bowl to Dhoni and Raina, our fielding could have been better too." Mahela feels that bowling of Suranga Lakmal and Seekkuge Prasanna was something positive for the Lankans.
"We can take many positives out of this game. The new guys did well. Suranga bowled well. I have enjoyed batting up the order. I am more relaxed, I can play my shots. It is easy to bat with Dilshan and it later flows with Sanga. But as I said, I played a pretty bad shot and mist take responsibility for it."
First Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 23:01