Dhoni proud of fast bowlers

India

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni lauded a fighting effort from India's fast bowlers, after the first Test match against South Africa ended a draw at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni lauded a fighting effort from India's fast bowlers, after the first Test match against South Africa ended a draw at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday.

A big century from batsman Cheteshwar Pujara and a near ton from the talented Virat Kohli afforded the tourists a hefty first-innings total – and left the Proteas a daunting 458-run target.

Rearguard tons from the right-handed Faf du Plessis and vice-captain AB de Villiers, however, pushed the Proteas to a promising position. The pair's dismissal – coupled with the early fall of the left-handed JP Duminy – brought a change in approach, though.

All-rounder Vernon Philander and tail-ender Dale Steyn, subsequently, adopted a largely defensive approach – as the score ended on 450 for seven, a mere eight runs shy of completing the highest successful fourth-innings run chase in the history of Test match cricket.

"'I am very happy with that performance. There are plenty of things we can talk about. The amount of preparation is one thing. Outside India we play with four bowlers. The spinner might not be effective in the first innings overseas," said Dhoni.

"There was some extra load on the fast bowlers. The bowling was fantastic throughout, though. Virat and Pujara played really well. It got tough in the middle. There was a situation in the game when we could have lost easily."

The inexperienced Mohammed Shami was the pick of the bowlers, snaring figures of two for 48 in the first innings and three for 107 in the second. The tall Ishant Sharma, meanwhile, complemented the veteran Zaheer Khan superbly.

"It is a good learning experience for the fast bowlers, to know when to attack if it needs to happen. With Zaheer, it is important to have a leader of the bowling attack outside the sub-continent. One of the most important things was his fitness. He looks different in this game. The more time he spends with us, the better he can get," added Dhoni.

An intriguing battle between Test cricket's top-ranked nations will continue on Thursday, when the second and final fixture of the series starts at Kingsmead in Durban.

"The wicket is good in Durban. It will be testing. It will be a good exposure for our batsmen. Same thing for our bowlers. It is important to rest well, especially the fast bowlers – and be ready for the next Test," concluded Dhoni.

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