India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday said that he never thought his spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will have such a “bad day” but also praised Australian skipper Steve Smith and George Bailey for playing exceptionally well in the middle overs.
Ashwin (2/69 in 9 overs) and Jadeja (0/61 in 9 overs) together gave away 129 runs in 18 overs as India lost the opening ODI by five wickets.
“When I was speaking about sharing the load before the match, I was speaking about when the fast-bowlers don’t have a very good day then I will have to use the spinner. I never thought it will be the spinners who will have a very bad day and the others will have to share that responsibility,” Dhoni said at the post-match press conference.
“I think the Australian batsmen batted really well since there was less assistance from the pitch. They played a few big shots but they rotated the strike really well, and they were getting more than six runs an over. There was a lot of pressure on us since our spinners went for a few boundaries,” the skipper explained.
He had a word of praise for the fast bowlers.
“The fast bowlers bowled well and gave us a good start with two wickets. That is the kind of start you need when you put runs on the board. But I think the spinners could have bowled better.”
Dhoni had words of praise for left-arm seamer Barinder Sran, who got 3/56 in his debut but also did not forget to mention that the jury is still out on the Punjab youngster.
“I think he bowled really well. He was hitting the right areas, which I feel is important. Being a left-arm fast bowler, they have that slight advantage of the angle that goes away from the right-handed batsmen. I felt overall he bowled really well, but I won’t make judgment based on one game.
“We’ll also have to see in the coming games when there is pressure on him right from the start – if the batsmen are set, if he is put under pressure in the first circle regulation itself – then we’ll have to see how he bowls. But overall, if you just ask me today, I think he bowled really well,” the skipper was cautious.
Rohit Sharma’s 171 not out also came in for praise as the skipper termed him a player who is always capable of getting big hundreds.
“Whenever a batsman plays a long innings, the most important thing there is how he carries on once he gets to 50 and then how he carries on once he gets to his century. Most of the times when Rohit crosses 100-110, he scores quite big and that’s always good.
“When you are making runs you should ensure you make as many as you can – that will benefit the team too. He is one of the players in the team who can play all the shots, exploit the field well, and hits effortlessly. He batted very well and it’s important that after a good start he does well in the whole series and carries this form forward,” Dhoni said. When asked if the duo could have accelerated earlier than they did, he replied,”That’s a difficult one. 310 is a very good score and they got it only in the last over. If we had bowled slightly better, we could have put more pressure on them but that was not the case.
“We can always debate if we could have been more aggressive, but we also have to think about what happens when we lose quick wickets. It was easier for the set batsmen to score runs and not easy for the newcomers. We could have pushed for those extra 15-20 runs but there was a chance we couldn’t have reached 300 also. Maybe in a different situation we could have batted differently but on a wicket like this I thought 310 was a very good score.”
On the question of a lack of part-time bowling options, Dhoni said the team still lacks a proper seam-bowling all-round option which also meant that Rishi Dhawan’s all-round abilities don’t inspire the highest level of confidence in the team management.
“If you see our batsmen, the only other part-time bowler is Gurukeerat Singh Maan. I’ve not seen much him or how good he is as a bowler. He does bowl a little in the domestic circuit.” the skipper was cautious.
Dhoni explains Ishant’s exclusion
After Mohammed Shami’s hamstring injury that ruled him out of the limited overs series, India’s most experienced fast bowler Ishant Sharma got an injury scare having sustained a blow on his finger, which was the reason team management did not risk playing him in the first ODI. Ishant also did not take part in the two warm-up games.
“Ishant had a finger injury but he was available for selection. But had he played, there was a chance that he would got hit again in the same finger and miss the remaining four matches. Therefore, despite being available, we decided not to take extra risk of playing him,” Dhoni said at the post-match press conference.
Dhoni remains stoic on DRS
Dhoni maintained his stoic stance regarding India’s aversion for contentious Decision Review System (DRS) but said that he “may agree” to the notion that his team is suffering for non-usage of technology.
Australia were 21 for two when George Bailey was caught down the leg side by Dhoni off the very first ball he faced from debutant Barinder Sran. The snickometer showed that ball brushed Bailey’s gloves before the Indian skipper caught it.
While Dhoni went up in appeal, the bowler was not fully convinced and umpire Richard Kettleborough ruled it in favour of the batsmen. Bailey went on to get a hundred and added 242 runs with skipper Steve Smith as Australia romped home.
When an Aussie scribe asked if the umpires are punishing India regarding 50-50 decisions, Dhoni in a playful tone said: “I may agree with you”.
Dhoni was in agreement that a third wicket then could have changed the course of the match but also made it clear that he wants to see the umpires take more correct decisions.
“It could have (changed the result of the game) but at the same time, we need to push the umpires to take the right decision. You have to see how many 50-50 decisions don’t go in our favour. And it always happens that you have to take it but I am still not convinced about DRS,” Dhoni stated what has been BCCI’s stand on the issue for a long time now.
Dhoni then again explained what he thought about DRS in its present form.
“Ideally, DRS should be a decision making system. But there are quite a few deviations and even the makers agree with that. And in cricket, every inch matters – not even inches, it’s millimeters that matter.
“DRS shouldn’t be umpires decision justification system. It should be giving the right decision. Like in tennis, you don’t say if the umpire has given it out, half the ball needs to pitch on the line, or if he has given it not out, the scenario is different. It has to be plain and simple,” he added.