Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said it was just a matter of seeing through the early overs and his team never panicked.
Eight wickets separated Sri Lanka from a win but the Indian batsmen came with a much improved show in the second essay to walk away with a draw, scoring 222 runs while losing just a couple of wickets.
“We needed a good partnership at start of the innings. We knew if we don’t give early wickets to Sri Lankan bowlers, it would be very difficult for them to get 10 wickets. That’s what really happened,” Dhoni said after the match.
“There was no question of panic,” he added.
Nearly 1600 runs were scored over five days while just 21 wickets fell as the Test petered out to a dull draw.
“The wicket was quite flat. I wouldn’t say it was the flattest wicket I have seen but I think it was on slower side to the spinners, it wasn’t of much help to them,” Dhoni said.
When his attention was drawn to the fact that India lost 14 wickets in the match, twice their opponents, Dhoni sprang into the defence of spinners Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra, who bled a staggering 392 runs between them, claiming just three wickets.
“I am satisfied with our spinners. If you see, (Muttiah) Muralitharan was in the opposition side. He is the greatest we will see and even he didn’t get the bounce or turn he is known for. It was difficult for our bowlers.”
“It was a placid track and the Sri Lankan side really play the spinners well. Overall I am happy but we could have bowled tighter I can say,” Dhoni explained.
He shot down the suggestion that Sri Lankan spinners outshone their home side counterparts in the match.
“I think we are at par with any side that has good spinners. Overall, the run rate was quite the same. Of course we bowled a lot more overs.
“In this case, they were more accurate, bowled one line and length, didn’t experiment much once they knew there was not much help for spinners,” Dhoni said.
By tea, it was clear that a result was not possible in this run-feast but India still played on till Sachin Tendulkar completed his century.
Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said he had offered to call off the match early but Tendulkar insisted he would play on.
Dhoni saw nothing wrong in Tendulkar’s approach and said, “If you are so close to a milestone any batsman has a right to achieve it.”
About Gautam Gambhir’s ambitious shot that led to his downfall after having played so well in saving the day for India, Dhoni said the left-hander uses his feet well to the spinners but it did not succeed.
Talking about the positives for his team from the match, Dhoni said that the bowlers were ready to bowl long spells and said the team would be looking to get big partnerships going.
“We bowled 200-odd overs. I don’t expect the same to happen in Kanpur. There have been quite a few positives. The faster bowlers bowled really well, bowled in right areas,” he said.
He also praised Zaheer Khan, who has come back after a long injury lay-off, for his performance.
“He has been the mainstay, whether it is the ODIs or the Test format. He brings in controlled aggression on the field.
Even on the flattest of tracks, he looks to take wickets. He gives his best, bowls long spells. So it is always good to have a bowler like him in the side,” he said.
On Ishant Sharma, Dhoni said, “Ishant looked in good rhythm and later on as he bowled more overs he was consistent with his line and length. We were not able to get reverse swing going which would have put more pressure on batsmen.”
One area that Dhoni sounded worried about was the excessive no balls.
“No-balls was one of the reasons we were not getting wickets. Fast bowlers were exerting a bit more trying to bowl a fraction quicker and that’s why fast bowlers bowled no balls. It shouldn’t happen in a Test on a track like this.
“If you get a wicket off a no-ball, the only one you can blame is yourself because on this wicket to get a batsman out requires loads of effort. You expect them not to bowl no-balls,” he added.