India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was ‘happy’ that his team was ‘stretched’ by Zimbabwe in its last group league encounter of the World Cup, saying the side ‘wouldn’t have got anything’ out of easy victories.
The defending champions rode on Suresh Raina’s rollicking century and an equally unbeaten 85 by Dhoni to overcome Zimbabwe by six wickets and maintain their clean slate going into the quarterfinals against Bangladesh.
Chasing 288, India were at one stage struggling at 92 for four, before the Dhoni-Raina duo held centre-stage.
“I think it couldn’t have been better in the sense if you’re playing the last game of your – of the league stage, and if you get an easy win, you don’t get a lot out of that game. What was good was the spinners were put under pressure, and also we lost quick wickets initially, and that actually put our middle and lower middle-order under pressure, so we gained a lot out of it,” Dhoni said at the post-match media conference.
Raina’s century laid the foundation and Dhoni lauded the left-hander for his stupendous effort.
Cricket World Cup 2015 India v/s Zimbabwe: Raina, Dhoni take India to 6-wicket win
“Winning, of course, was very important, but the knock by Raina was very crucial coming at No 5. More often than not, you don’t get an opportunity. You get in to bat maybe after the 38th or 39th over if your top order is batting well and you have to slog it out, so you play the big shot and get out by not scoring too many runs.
“At the end of the day, when you get into the knockout stages you want to have runs under your belt. It doesn’t really matter how many but once you get going, it just gives you that good feeling, which I feel is important in the knockout stages.
The India skipper called it a ‘good game’. “Overall that’s one of the main reasons why I would say it was a good game for us, and all the batsmen, also, they were under pressure. The ball was doing a bit and started to stop a bit, also. So overall, it was a good game,” he said.
For someone who has turned chasing big scores into an art, Dhoni gave an insight into how he prepares for a big run-chase. “I think what’s important is to break the number of runs into small targets. You will tell yourself, okay next two or three overs let’s look for 10 runs or 15 runs or even eight runs if someone is bowling really well. But at the same time it’s a team effort,” he concluded.