Praveen showed great character, says skipper Dhoni

Kingston: Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni praised Rahul Dravid and Praveen Kumar for their significant contribution in India`s 63-run win over West Indies in the first Test here on Thursday.

While man-of-the-match Dravid scored 112 in the second innings while Praveen had a match-haul of six for 80.

"Dravid has been an exceptional batsman. That he played over 250 deliveries showed he was very patient. He made the bowlers pitch in his areas and was brilliant," Dhoni said at the post-match press conference.

But he had special mention for Praveen who proved one and all the he can be a handful in longer version too.

"Praveen is a very skillful bowler and can swing the ball either way. He doesn`t have the pace but he can confuse the batsmen with his movement. The batsmen are circumspect as to whether they should play or leave the deliveries," Dhoni explained.

"He (Praveen) showed great character after having been stopped from bowling in the first innings. When you are switching from 10-over format to 20-25 overs in an innings, you have to be careful. Importantly, he backed his strength and picked up wickets in the second innings as well."

The skipper seemed satisfied with the effort of the lower-order batsmen like Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra whose contributions made a lot of difference to the final outcome of the match.

"Our lower-order batsmen for the past year and a half have been contributing well. We were 85 for 6 in the first innings before Harbhajan along with Suresh Raina, bailed us out. In the second innings, Mishra made a telling contribution," he said.

Dhoni didn`t forget to mention about the Raina-Harbhajan partnership.

"But for that stand (Raina and Harbhajan), we could have been all out for 150. We were able to get more runs and thus gather a handy lead. Then in the second innings, we could stretch the lead to 300 plus."

The skipper said that they were confident of defending 325 as it would have been tough score to chase on a tricky wicket.

"300 was always going to be a difficult score to chase in the fourth innings. They were off to a flyer but wickets always slow down the momentum and we were able to apply pressure on their middle order."

"In the first innings, both sides bowled tight and there were not many deliveries to cut. In the second innings, both the sides were lenient."

Dhoni felt that wicket being a difficult one to bat on, it would have always been advantage for bowlers.

"It was slightly different wicket. Unless you bowled really bad, it was difficult to score."

About the two other Test debutants Abhinav Mukund and Virat Kohli, Dhoni felt that more they played, the better they would adapt to the rigours of Test cricket.

Dhoni also didn`t want to read too much into the talks of Kohli being suspect against short-ball.

"The short ball talk has been on for some time. In international cricket, you have to consistently face it. You need to adapt, you may not be the best player of fast bowling but if you can negotiate it, even if you don`t look elegant, it`s fair enough," he explained.

PTI

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