Dhoni was under pressure after failing to score a run in the first innings and not managing a test century for 18 months, especially with his wicketkeeping rival Dinesh Karthik scoring 60 as an opener.
But he defied his attacking urges and rode some early scares to craft an unbeaten 76 in 159 balls yesterday, keeping his side level with their hosts in the three-test series. They survived at 282 for nine chasing 380 when bad light stopped play.
''It was very important the way he batted,'' India captain Rahul Dravid told reporters. ''It was very critical. He didn't get a lot of runs in the first innings so to play that innings under pressure was a great effort.'' Dhoni's strike rate in test cricket is 71 runs per 100 balls.
When he scored 148 against Pakistan, his last test hundred, he faced just 153 balls. This innings was made at a rate of just 47 per 100.
''That was what the situation demanded from me today,'' Dhoni said. ''It was quite hard for me but the thing that came to my mind was that it would be a tough day.
''I knew at some point in time it would be a difficult scenario and we would have to save the game. Thankfully I played a good innings and saved the match for us.'' England tried every tactic to take the remaining wicket before the weather intervened, including keeping play going by operating with spinners Monty Panesar and Michael Vaughan.
''He's got a bit of experience and he knew what type of innings was needed,'' Vaughan said about Dhoni. ''Once he got in he was a hard batsman to get out.''