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BCCI Staff in Mumbai 26 January 2014 - 10:54am IST

Happy to stay alive in series: Dhoni

Indian skipper is pleased with the team’s batting approach in Auckland

On the verge of conceding the series with two matches to go, India avoided the ignominy at Auckland, thanks to the 85-run seventh wicket partnership between R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. The thrilling tie in the third ODI means India will go to Hamilton with a chance to draw the series. For MS Dhoni, it was a relief.

"The big thing for us was to stay alive in this series," Dhoni said. "This game could have gone either way at that point. It seemed we needed hard work and application to win from there and Jadeja and Ashwin batted really well to take us to where we are and keep us alive. Overall quite happy.

"I think we would have loved to win the game here. But at the same time, most important thing is being alive in the series and that's what this tie does to us. We should have lost the game from 140-odd down for five-six. Once the kind of partnership we got we should have won from there. But it didn't go our way. In the end tie was a good one because good cricket was played and bad cricket was also played by both sides. That is the reason we are on even terms. We can't win the series but we can hold it to a draw.

"Yet again there were instances where we could have packed up the game in our favour. It's important to avail those. So far we have not done that in this series. Hopefully we can do that in the coming two matches," Dhoni said.

While the lower order showed gumption with the bat, India’s struggling middle-order continues to pose a serious concern to Dhoni. "In the middle overs we haven't got the partnerships that are really needed," he said. "With the kind of changes in ODIs, if you have wickets you have an edge especially from 35th over onwards. We are losing quite a few wickets in the middle overs, which means you have to restart building the innings, which means you lose 25-30 runs.

"We have got power hitters in our batting. We haven't fired. We haven't availed the last ten overs generally how we do and yet we are getting very close to opposition targets. Hopefully in [the rest of] this series we will have wickets in hand and be able to use those overs and get those extra runs."

A hallmark of India’s chases in the last few years has been Dhoni’s unmatched ability to finish games from hopeless situations. The Indian captain expressed his disappointment for not being able to do so in this series.

"My responsibility as a batsman is to stay till the end and so far in this series I have not been able to do that, and have gotten out close to 40-43rd over. It puts pressure on batsmen after me. It will be good if I can stay till 48th-49th over."

On the whole, Dhoni felt the batting performance was far improved in Auckland compared to the first two matches. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma put up 64 for the first wicket before the spinners joined hands in the lower order.

"Overall I like the approach in this game," he said. "There is a certain brand of cricket we are known to play. That was missing in the last few games. So it was very important to express and the openers did that. Lower in the order, Ashwin and Jadeja also played the same brand of cricket. Still need to convert those starts into big innings, though."

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