Rajkot: Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni Friday said India could have chased down the stiff 326-run target set by England in the first ODI here had he and Suresh Raina stayed till the end.
Chasing England's 325 for 4, India lacked the batting firepower and were restricted to a 316 for 9 in a high-scoring contest to concede a 1-0 lead to visitors in the five-match series.
Till Dhoni (32) and Raina (50) were at the crease, India were well and truly on course but lost wickets in regular intervals to make life difficult for themselves.
"It was difficult but we should have got there. It was close to 280 or 290 rather than looking at it as 320-odd.
Maybe I should have batted a few more overs," he said at the post-match presentation.
"I won't sound arrogant but it seemed easy when I and Raina were in, with five fielders in the circle. But once we fell, it was difficult," he said.
Dhoni lauded his spinners for bringing India back into the match in the middle overs after, electing to bat, England went off to a scintillating start.
"There was a situation in the middle when it looked they would score 340, but [our] spinners got us back. It is a new batch of bowlers, not much experienced in international cricket," he said.
England skipper Alastair Cook attributed the win to team effort. "It was a good toss to win on a very good wicket, and we made the most of it. I am proud of the side. Samit [Patel] and Craig [Kieswetter] at the end made a difference," he said.
Patel and Kieswetter added quickfire 70 runs off 41 balls for the fifth wicket to take England past the 320-run mark.
"It is hard to defend with five men in the circle, India kept getting close, but we got the wickets when it mattered," he said.
The English captain also praised Man-of-the-Match James Tredwell for his match-winning figures of four for 44. "Tredwell bowled brilliantly. It is pretty much the same attack we had here in 2001, and good to see how we have learned from the experience," Cook said.
Offspinner Tredwell said while restricting, England got wickets when it mattered for the side. "You try and hit your skills over and over again. If the batsman hits a good shot, so be it. We got wickets at the right time, even at the lower end, it is what helped us get over the line," he said.
Asked why the team preferred Ashok Dinda over Shami Ahmed, who had made an impressive debut against Pakistan at New Delhi recently, Dhoni said the wicket at the Ferozshah Kotla was different. "We knew Dinda can bowl yorker length balls but did not know how Shami can bowl on such a wicket," said Dhoni.
Dhoni curtly said "no" when a local scribe asked him if the team management had erred in leaving out Cheteshwar Pujara from the XI as he came into the game on the back of his second Ranji Trophy triple hundred. "As I said we needed to have wickets in hand but that did not happen. Had I stayed for two more overs, things could have been different," he said.
Dhoni also admitted India conceded too many runs in the last two over. Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar leaked 38 runs in those two overs.