Last 10 overs cost us: Dhoni
Brisbane, Feb 19: The young India side in the ODI tri-series has saved crucial runs on the field but failed to live up to expectations in the batting department. In their clash against Australia, the openers returned to the pavilion without reaching double-digit figures while the team folded for mere 178 runs; they eventually lost the game by a 110-run margin.
Skipper MS Dhoni discussed the team composition in detail in the post-match press conference. Excerpts:
On the young Indian batters
We have a lot of talent in these youngsters whether they are batters or bowlers but you have to reflect it; you need to score runs. You may take a bit of time to be consistent at the international level but it’s important when you are going through a tough phase to keep scoring runs. It doesn’t really matter who is scoring. […] We need to be a bit extra careful especially because the game has changed a bit with the two new balls coming in. Maybe in India it won’t have a big effect but in conditions like these, and if you play in England or some other place, you have to give a bit more respect initially [to the ball]. But that also creates a scenario in the middle overs where the ball will come nicely on to the bat once the sheen [is gone]. Hopefully they will do better.
On being asked to pick the period of play where the game slipped away
The last 10 overs, the bowlers felt the heat. Right from the start of the second Powerplay [in the] 36th over, I saw my best fast bowlers battling through cramps so that was the reason I bowled Zaheer Khan out in that spell. I didn’t want to lose any overs from him and then kept Vinay Kumar for the last few but he also felt the cramps. In the last 10 overs they batted really well and our bowlers were not really able to execute the way they could have if they were not battling cramps or the heat. It was hot out there and you are supposed to go through that phase but I felt they found it slightly difficult to go through.
On whether this was a concern after the players being well rested and rotated
Everybody was hydrated but at times we have seniors [who feel the heat]; over here there is no breeze, it becomes very hot and it is a big outfield. It puts pressure on the fielders. They have to put a bit more pressure on their body to not let the batsman score doubles. It’s a demanding format and at times you have seen players get cramps. Somebody can sweat more than someone else; Rahul [Dravid] bhai used to sweat more than the other players.
On whether the defeat was because of a batting or bowling failure, or not bowling Ravindra Jadeja
I felt that till the 30th over we did well, but the last 10 overs if the opposition scores 100 runs, it becomes a bit difficult. Whatever score they have before that, even if they were close to 170- or 160-odd runs, 100 runs in the last 10 overs [makes it difficult]. 270 or 280 runs is always difficult to chase and I didn’t want to bowl Jadeja when the left-hander [Matthew] Wade was settled. Once [David] Warner got out, I thought I was better off bowling an offspinner. [Suresh] Raina bowled really well and after that Wade was the one who was settled. Once he got out, [Michael] Hussey came in and he got settled so I was quite happy using the offspinner and I got through the overs. Raina bowled 10 overs, two or three overs were bowled by Rohit Sharma, so there was no real need of making him bowl just because he was there. He is a good bowler to have but if there was one more right-handed batsman, I would perhaps have used him.
On the wisdom of playing a left-arm spinner against a team with three or four left-handers
If need to, I may change it because it’s all about being smart on the field. It’s not like if somebody is a left-arm spinner or an offspinner, you have to bowl him. You have to get the most of the resources that you have got. I was quite happy with the 12 or 13 overs that they bowled; they got us a wicket and at the same time they did not give away too many runs.
On giving Parthiv Patel or Manoj Tiwary a chance considering Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina haven’t got that many runs while Virat Kohli has
We will see how it goes. Manoj is also not well; that was the reason he was not on the field. He had fever so we sent him back to the hotel. We don’t want to take any decisions in a panic. When the top three or four batsmen score runs, it becomes easy for the batsmen coming down the order because if you are chasing 280 or 290 odd runs, the run-rate keeps rising. You may build a partnership but by the time you get going, you see the run-rate has already gone up to nine-and-a-half, 10 runs. It is a very difficult task. You want to get off to decent start, even if you don’t score too many runs at a very brisk pace […] You need to take those doubles and put pressure on the fielders and if you have wickets in hand later on, you can go after the bowlers in the second Powerplay and hopefully in the last 10 overs.
On what he said to the umpires after the Michael Hussey fiasco
I just told them, it is difficult to be an umpire if you are on the field but if you are sitting in an air-conditioned room and have the luxury of replays in front of you and whatever time you [need], then the umpire should take maybe one more minute to press the right button. You have different emotions going on in the field. All of sudden you are happy because a batsman got out and after two seconds it’s like, ‘No, no, they pressed the wrong button.’ It’s really a joke. If you are sitting in an air-conditioned room, make sure you press the right button.
On what went on between Brett Lee and him while he was batting
That’s between two men so I would like to keep it [at that]. I don’t know whether Brett Lee will tell you or not but it’s definitely not coming out of my mouth.
On whether he reckons that the best XI should be playing now
You have to see what the best XI is. If you talk about the best XI being the players who have scored runs in the tournament, than also we may find it difficult to feature the XI. Or if you talk about the number of games we have played or the experienced guys have played, so it’s about everyone going. Everybody needs to contribute. Gautam [Gambhir] has done well, he needs to keep on going because he is among the senior guys who will be batting up the order. Then you have Virat [Kohli] who has done well, Rohit [Sharma] who is getting his chances and then [Suresh] Raina also. We need to contribute as a unit and that’s what should be the key. You want to field a very good fielding side also. We have seen in these close games that you can’t really afford to score 20 more runs just because your fielding is not good enough on the big field. We have to be careful and hopefully it will be sorted out.
On whether this series was about taking something home after the disastrous Test series or more about building for World Cup 2015
It should be about both because you want to do well. As I said, you know the opposition team played well, they outplayed you. But at the end of the day, if you are not winning games, you feel bad. We want to get a bit of both. You want the youngsters to play the games but we need to get into the finals first. Then it’s a three-match series in the finals; you have to be consistent in two games to win the tournament. But you want to see these youngsters [grow]. They will be coming here again and again, maybe for the next World Cup also. They should know how one needs to play in these situations or conditions against a bowling attack that is world class. Overall you want to get the best for the side.
On whether there would there be a scenario where India would have to play all three seniors
That may happen. It will affect our fielding in a big way which means there will be more pressure on the batsmen to score those extra 20 runs. But if the middle-order does not perform consistently well, you may have to go with the experienced guys at the top of the order and let the scoring [pick up] from the bottom-most batsmen.
On his three performances and the need for him to perform in the finals
It doesn’t matter whether I am performing or not because every game is a fresh game. I like to perform in each and every game, that is the mentality that each and every one has got in this side. Hopefully others will also start performing and the burden will be shared because that’s what needs to be done in a team-sport environment.
On whether he was concerned about the fielding
Not too much because this is the best fielding side that we have got. We dropped a few catches but it happens in cricket that [even] the best fielders drop catches. I think there was a phase where we did drop a few catches and hopefully we won’t in whatever games that we are left [with].
On Sachin Tendulkar’s fitness
He has just played a game, so I think [he’s ok]. There will be discomfort; with the amount of cricket we play, there will be a few niggles. Everybody has niggles, but till you get unfit, it’s fair enough. The 16 or 17 that you have got, you want everybody available for selection, then you can select the best team.
On whether it was worth sacrificing 20-odd runs on the field by picking Virender Sehwag instead of Raina
Definitely. People often talk about that one run but that one run that you save, it changes the strike and if the batsman plays a big shot the next ball, a six or a four, it can have a big impact. The last few games that we played, we got two or three run outs and that really had a big impact.
It’s not only these three [senior] players that we are talking about. We also have quite a few other players who are slow in the field. It will just add to that and we will be left with just two or three really good fielders. It’s not that these fielders are bad but for this environment and these conditions and big outfields, they are slightly on the slower side. They will be exploited. Once the ball goes to them, the Australians or the Sri Lankans will try to exploit the doubles or three runs. It means it will put more pressure on their body because the throwing and diving need to be good. Ultimately it will be a pressure game.
On the youngsters believing they are in the team only because of their fielding
Which means they are scoring in every game because fielding is one department where [there is no respite]; batting and bowling is something where there are variables. They have made a few errors, but fielding is one department where you can always score. You don’t have a bad day on the field, usually. More often than not, you field well, you contribute to the bowler, the morale of the team is good, there is intensity on the field.
On whether skill was more important than fielding and whether Sehwag was available for the next game
By skill, you meant cricket, right? In India there is less emphasis on fielding, that’s why you say skill is cricket and fielding is fielding. […]
[Sehwag] was not available for this game so I don’t know about the day after. It depends on how he turns up tomorrow. He has got a back spasm. Hopefully he will be available.
On the seniors struggling in the field having played for years
That’s true, but cricket has changed. I am not saying that they are bad fielders; what I said was they are safe fielders but on the slower side, which means ultimately the pressure will be on them. They will have to throw from a position where it will be difficult for them. There will be more pressure on their body and there will be more breakdowns. So till we are in a scenario where we can afford to play Rohit, Raina – even a Manoj Tiwary – it will slightly easy for them. They can take a break and come back fresh. It’s not like in India where you hit a ball through the infield and it races to the boundary and a ball boy throws it back. Over here, you have to run; you can pull a muscle, you can pull your hamstring.
On Suresh Raina
As I said, it’s a very difficult call. If I need a No. 6 batsman, for me Raina is someone who suits the slot more than Rohit because he has more experience at that slot. As I always say, it’s a very difficult number to perform and somebody who has played a number of games at that slot needs the liberty of those extra games. He knows how to play through an innings once he gets in at No 6.
On taking the third umpiring issue further
He just committed a mistake but [here’s an example:] I got out in West Indies, if I am not wrong, a couple of times off no-balls and once, an entirely different ball was shown to the third umpire, so I could have been called back. I would have loved that. You play a bad shot or a rash shot, and the umpire says, ‘No, no and calls you back.’ If it’s consistent, if most of the errors are taken care of, I am happy if a batsman gets the benefit. It doesn’t matter if it’s an Australian or Indian or someone else. As long as they are consistent with it, I don’t have any issue.
On conceding the bonus point to Australia
The bonus point is something that we didn’t want to concede. Once we lost too many wickets, we wanted to score 230 – I think that was the score for us to save the bonus point. But we kept losing wickets. When we got close to that Powerplay, we still needed six runs an over, I think, to save that bonus point. But you can’t do much when the opposition is playing well. What’s important is for us to win games. We still have three more games and it gives that extra amount of exposure to all the teams to make it to the final.