Durban: Relieved after notching up a series-equalising win against South Africa in the second Test, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said today`s triumph and performance of the past couple of years has shown that the team can do well anywhere in the world.
"More often than not you are one-down in a series. I said in the first press conference that we don`t start well. We`re more used to batting under pressure," he said after the 87-run win in the second Test here.
"We started this process around September 2008 and two years hence we`re in a position where we can say we have done well in most places," he added.
Speaking about the match, Dhoni said getting prolific all-rounder Jacques Kallis` wicket was the key in a game which had fortunes swinging everyday.
"Most of their batsmen have done well in the last few series. What was important for us was to put the line-up under pressure. This meant that we had to take early wickets and keep on taking wickets. The timing of getting Kallis, and AB (de Villiers) was important," he said.
With this win, Dhoni equalled Mohammad Azharuddin`s winning record as captain and said the results show that he has a good side under him.
"What it means is that we`ve played consistent cricket over a period of time. Of course it`s a proud moment. As a team whether it`s batting, bowling or fielding we`ve done consistently well.”
"We`ve taken some good catches despite not being a brilliant ground fielding side. It feels really good that we`ve done well together," he said.
India won the match despite big guns such as Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid failing to score and Dhoni said it goes to show the depth in the side.
"It`s not about being proud if someone is not performing. What`s important is how you back each other, and the way you enjoy each others` success. Of course (Cheteshwar) Pujara got a chance, his intent was very good, he was positive," he said.
"Our batting line-up is one of the most experienced around. If you see, in some matches some individuals will perform and others will perform in different games. What is important is doing well as a batting and bowling department," he added.
Dhoni conceded that conditions are a challenge in South Africa but said the team has the ability to conquer them.
"Some of the conditions may not suit your batting side. We`re not born in South Africa so we don`t have the experience of these conditions. 70-80 per cent of our cricket we play in the subcontinent, so when we come to these conditions it`s challenging for our side.”
"As a side and as individuals you want to do well but it doesn`t always go your way. If you see the touring schedule we last came here in 2006. There`s a long gap in the middle. Everybody wants to perform, but every challenge is a new challenge," he said.
Dhoni played down the on-field antics of flamboyant pacer S Sreesanth, who grabbed three wickets in the second innings, and said he is fine with it as long as the bowler doesn`t violate the disciplinary code.
"There`s nothing called over-aggression till you don`t cross the limit. There are some guidelines that needed to be followed and there are no other lines saying over aggression or under aggression. You need to be yourself but still not get into someone else`s space. You should go beyond what the guidelines say," he said.
Dhoni made light of his losing streak at the toss, saying that he has no complaints as long as the team goes on to win the match.
"One thing for sure I`m very consistent at losing tosses. In some places, like Centurion, it becomes really tough. The first day was the toughest that we faced. When we batted in the second innings we got a huge score but the deficit was so huge we couldn`t really come back," he said.
"Toss at times can be really crucial. In this game it didn`t really matter but it`s always good to win the toss and put the opposition in when there`s some help for the bowlers," he added.
With one more Test to go in the series, Dhoni parried questions on whether today`s win has silenced critics of the team.
"As I always say we never play under less pressure. When we play Bangladesh we have the same pressure as when playing Australia or South Africa. It doesn`t matter where we play. Our batsmen have batted in difficult situations more than the batting line-ups of other teams," he said.
"Of course our Test line-up has guys with a lot of experience and that counts. We also have a few youngsters who are part of the side, who can be groomed under them. Hopefully they will become as good when the time comes for them to take the place of the seniors," he added.
"Anyone is free to express their mind and they may have a certain opinion on a certain individual. It`s up to that individual to change those mindsets. You have to go back to the nets, work on your basics, do well and wait for your chance. When you get your chance you can always prove them wrong. I feel it`s basically upto the individual`s mindset, not about criticism or appreciation."
The captain of the world`s number one Test side also refused to compare the triumph with any past win.
"I don`t believe in rating wins. Every win is special in its own way, whether you win at Kanpur, Eden Gardens or somewhere else in the world, it means a lot," he said.
"It`s not just about one victory. Then what about we have been doing in the last few years? All those wins have an impact on the confidence and morale of the side. As a cricketer it`s important to see what you have control over on winning percentage," he added.
Dhoni lavished praise on pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, saying the bowler`s sheer presence takes off a lot of pressure.
"If you look at the positives the youngsters are getting groomed under Zaheer. Of course, it`s the coach`s job to groom all the players but when you have someone like Zaheer it reduces the coach`s workload by 50 per cent.
"Also Zaheer is very good under pressure. He doesn`t panic in tough situations and he convinces bowlers about the fields they should set and the lines and lengths they should bowl," he said.
The match has also given India a bit of an injury scare to deal with in VVS Laxman, who is nursing a bad back. Dhoni refused to comment on the exact state of Laxman`s injury.
"That`s one thing that`s beyond my control, it`s between the physio and Laxman. Hopefully it will be ok for the next few years. He played a very special innings. We always count on Laxman. Whenever you see him not scoring in a couple of innings you know something very special is coming," he said.
"It was one of those wickets where it was quite tough to convince yourself that you`re set because one odd ball may do something and get you out. At the end of the day the 96-odd runs that he made mattered. It would have been lovely if he got to a hundred, but you don`t always get what you want," he added.