India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni asked his openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma to take more responsibility after the visitors crashed to a 15-run defeat against New Zealand in the rain-truncated second cricket one-dayer in Hamilton.
“When it comes to our openers, they fought out the first 10 overs but I felt that it was very important they could have carried on for another 10-15 overs so that from the 22nd or 25th over onwards, we should have started to hit out, but it does not always go according to plan,” Dhoni said at the post-match presentation ceremony after India slumped to its second consecutive defeat in the series to lose its numero uno status to Australia.
India made a valiant effort to overhaul the revised target of 297 in 42 overs as per the D/L method but failed to cross the finishing line scoring 277 for nine in 41.3 overs.
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The Duckworth-Lewis par score in 41.3 overs was 293.
India were again done in by lack of big partnerships which has been their bane of late.
“The last game I got out, and this game Virat got out, so it was important to keep continuing to build a partnership as it is hard for the players coming in after us to play their strokes freely,” Dhoni said.
Dhoni praised New Zealand bowlers for their impressive show and said the Kiwi pacers pulled India back every time the hosts looked to chase down the target.
“When the New Zealand fast bowlers bowled the slower ones, it was hard to get them away and play the big strokes.
Somebody like Virat who is in tremendous form also found it difficult to consistently hit (the ball).
“It was quite difficult to hit them away consistently, and in the end we couldn’t get close to the 290 we needed. I think overall the wicket changed to some extent and we were not able to score 290,” he said.
Even though they leaked runs for the second consecutive match, Dhoni backed his bowlers. He reserved his special praise for medium pacer Mohammed Shami.
“The fast bowlers did well for us. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was good at the death, while Shami has been performing quite consistently. Overall, it was a good effort from the bowlers’ side. We gave away a few extra runs but that was expected with the big hitters they have in their ranks who can score that 10-20 extra runs,” he said.
Asked about the revised target set for India after the rain interruption, Dhoni said: “I always feel that in a shortened game, it’s better for the second team in limited-overs to know the target and what to do. But if the game gets reduced by close to 10 overs, we know the team batting second is at disadvantage.”
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum, meanwhile, was delighted with his team’s performance and said the Kiwi players have raised their games in the last two games against a “packed” Indian batting line-up.
“Yeah it was a good performance. It was outstanding to get the total we did, and that too in a reduced game. We needed all those runs against India’s packed batting. Against the Indian team you know how dangerous their batting is. The team has really performed well over these last two games,” he said.
McCullum also lauded his team’s ability to held on to its nerve under pressure situation.
“At the end of the day, under pressure, the guys did really well. Really pleased with the guys’ performance, and I know we will get better and better as the series wears on.”
The New Zealand skipper said all-rounder Corey Anderson has proved his worth at international level with back-to-back impressive performances.
“Corey has showed just how much he has learned at this level to give us that momentum going into the second innings.
In big moments he is really stepping up and the way he came back with the ball showed his ability. His performance was
impressive,” he said.
Anderson played a brilliant cameo of 44 off just 17 balls during which he hit five huge sixes and also picked up three wickets with the ball from his 7.3 overs.
Man-of-the-match Kane Williamson, who top-scored for New Zealand with a fine 87-ball 77, said he was happy playing the role of an anchor in the middle-order.
“It’s going alright for me at the moment. Just playing the anchoring role in the middle after the big boys get dismissed. It has been quite good and a complete performance from the team. I tried to contribute as much as possible in both these games. It was great to keep the momentum going for the home team, and we look forward to our next match,” he said.