Australia v India, 1st Test, Melbourne, 4th day

India must learn to get tail out - Dhoni

Sidharth Monga at the MCG

December 29, 2011

Comments: 393 | Text size: A | A

After India's 122-run loss at the MCG, India's third first-Test loss on their last four tours, MS Dhoni said it was the batting that let the side down. The team, he said, also need to come up with ways to run through the opposition's lower order.

"We thought with a 230-odd runs [overnight] lead, if we could get them for 240 or 250, that's a very gettable score," Dhoni said. "But I felt 290-odd was also a score we should have achieved. The wicket was good, it was not like there was too much wear and tear on the wicket. I think the batting line-up flopped in both the innings.

"First innings, we got off to a decent start. We had a kind of a partnership going, after that we needed to capitalise on it. We were not really able to do that, because of which we were close to 50 runs short. In the second innings, wickets kept falling at regular intervals, which meant getting close to 300-odd runs was more and more difficult. Just that we need to get consistent with our batting."

The Indian batsmen began this year in overcast Cape Town, facing dream spell after dream spell from Dale Steyn who was ably supported by Morne Morkel. Led by Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir, they fought the conditions and the bowling, and managed a draw. That, sadly, was the high point of their Test cricket this year. Since then they have played 16 innings away from home, and have crossed 300 only once. One of those innings was a declaration at 269 for 6, another a score of 94 for 3 in a chase. That leaves 13 innings when India haven't crossed 300, which is a minimum requisite to compete in most Tests.


Ben Hilfenhaus frustrated India in a handy last-wicket stand, Australia v India, 1st Test, Melbourne, 4th day, December 29, 2011
MS Dhoni: "In games like these, both the innings together, if the amount of runs goes to 90 or 100 for the tail, it's a big amount of runs to chase." © AFP
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For the England debacle the batsmen could be given some benefit of doubt because of the pressure a toothless bowling attack on them, but here India actually had an attack that matched Australia blow for blow, except for bowling the tail out, where you have to argue captaincy played a big part too. Dhoni agreed about the batsmen's flaws, but chose to give credit to the Australian bowlers too.

"There are a lot of things that could have happened [differently with the batting]," Dhoni said. "But at the same time you need to give credit to the opposition bowlers because of the line and lengths they bowled. A lot of the batsmen who got out, the delivery was close to the off stump. Some of them came in, some of them just held their line. They bowled really well and they pushed the batsmen to play most of the deliveries.

"The batsmen had to guess if it [the ball] was coming in or going out. Consistently they bowled well. And session after session, they bowled in the same areas. At some point of time you may commit an error. Maybe that's what happened in this game."

Dhoni credited the Indian bowling, too, which in turn meant the batsmen needed to clean up their act even more urgently. "The bowlers did their job in this Test," he said. "We didn't start off really well in the first innings, but in between we got quick wickets. And we were able to put pressure on the opposition. In the second, when it came to bowling, we started off really well. Overall the bowling department did the job. Just that we need to put runs on board."

However, they needed to find a way to run through the tail as well, he said. "It [Australia's lower-order contribution] didn't deflate us," he said. "It's something we need to keep an eye on. Even in the first innings their lower order put decent runs on the board. In games like these, both the innings together, if the amount of runs goes to 90 or 100 for the tail, it's a big amount of runs to chase. We need to come up with ways to get the tailenders out."

The defeat at the MCG, and the England debacle, leaves India with a mixed year. "It was a good year for us as a team," Dhoni said. "At the same time there were phases we didn't do really well, the England series being one of the patches where we didn't win a single game. The World Cup, being one of the most treasured things, gave us immense pleasure to win it, but we weren't as consistent as were last year. That's something that does happen in cricket. Overall it's a good year, that's what I would say. If we had performed better in England, it would have been a perfect year. It doesn't always go that way."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (January 1, 2012, 14:29 GMT)

its high time that BCCI MADE SEHWAG OR SOMEONE ELSE THE CAPTAIN WHO WILL BE SURE TO BE IN THE TEAM FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS. THE TEST CAPTAIN DHONI HAS FALLEN TO THE VICTIM OF PETERS PRINCIPLE HE HAS RISEN TO THE LEVEL OF HIS INEFFICIENCY PETERS PRINCIPLE SAYS THAT EVERY MAN RISE TO THE LEVEL OF HIS INEFFICIENCY. DHONI IS GOOD IN INDIA BUT WOEFUL ABROAD. HE IS A BETTER WICKTKEEPER THAN A BATSMAN. HIS FIELD PLACINGS ARE REALLY CADAVEROUS TO SAY THE LEAST

Posted by   on (January 1, 2012, 2:43 GMT)

When was the last tym vvs laxman scored a centuryor atleast a useful contribution outside india ?? In my child hood ?? He is just gud in indian flat pitches !!! Thats the fact.he was terrible in. England series always getying out for single digit scores !! According to stats he is gud..in australian pitches except mcg !!i dont see. Any dkfference when he plays on othr australian pitches !! He is either out of form or taking things too lightly .winning matches in indian pitches wont make a legend or 4th innings superstar even kohli,rahane and rohit sharma can do tht.or even any ranji playr. Laxman is 36 now cant even bowl , not a great fieldr like ponting either just can only bat and frm past 7 away tests he falied very badly with bat now say.ne. Now say me 1 thing why shd he still be playing in the team ?? When in form players like rohit sharma whose advantage is scoring against fast bowlers shd rest and warm the bench ?? Sharma is 100 times bettr fieldr and can bowl too

No offence !

Posted by Abhayaprada on (January 1, 2012, 0:12 GMT)

@hyclass "on a difficult and deteriorating wicket on which all of the best batsmen from both sides struggled" - Sachin had no problems and averaged around his test average. Ponting did well. Also everyone agrees that the wicket held up very well for all four days. Yadav bowled well in both innings and improved in the second innings taking four wickets and seven for the match. Your analysis is shaky.

Posted by here2rock on (December 31, 2011, 10:24 GMT)

I find it really hard to believe Dhoni blaming the bowlers for not cleaning up the tail when there is only person who should be held responsible that is Dhoni himself. What was he thinking with those field placings? Get your head right for the remaining three matches or it will be 4-0.

Posted by samvarma on (December 31, 2011, 8:47 GMT)

We need to get rid of the hype and just get into business. Improving the batting (especially of youngesters) should be the first priority. We need to have atleast 4-5 youngsters ready to fill in the shoes of the 'greats'.

Posted by TRAM on (December 31, 2011, 8:23 GMT)

There are 2 kinds of comments: 1. Result-based ("get the openers out in 10 overs", "Mr.X scored less, so drop him!"). 2. Cause&effect-based ("should have set forward shortleg to tail-enders", "Mr.X should have bowled from north-end" etc). IMO, the type1 comes from common people who only enjoy cricket scores (and not the technicalities). The type2 comes from experts (degree varies). Unfortunately we see some experts make Type1 comments. Shastri would say "India need to make at least 30 runs in next 10 overs" ..(funny). It never ever works that way. Ask any real player. But, "target bowler X" OR "target onside", etc will work. Saying a result without addressing "How to achieve it" is not a pro's comment. Dhoni's "need to get tail-enders out!" is one such. :-) Many Aus/Eng commentators are excellent in giving Type 2 comments. Of Ind commentators, Ganguly is OK, even better than Gavaskar (who I feel is biased).

Posted by kingcobra85 on (December 31, 2011, 7:55 GMT)

So convenient to blame the bowlers for everything. Get the batting sorted out Dhoni you included

Posted by salman_ak on (December 31, 2011, 7:21 GMT)

I must say Indian Batsmen are like faithful husbands they perform wonderfully well at home. But are useless at foreign tours.

Posted by sacnit11 on (December 31, 2011, 7:14 GMT)

Yes, INDIANS are failing to pick the tail. If we look at the second innings, the last AUS pair added 43 runs wherein the highest partnership in INDIAN innings is 36. Also Pattison scored 37runs, which no player in INDIAN scored. Kohli should be dropped from Test and rohit should replace. Dhoni should improve his batting in Test matches, if he plays attacking shots will help him to score runs, if he go for defending as he does in ODI it wont help me here. We should beat AUS, as NZ beated them. We should win this series.. All the best guys..

Posted by   on (December 31, 2011, 6:43 GMT)

The only way you can get rid of Tail is by bowling bouncers at them like Pattinson and co. did. Hope he gets them back at Sydney in plenty from Indian bowlers. MCG was no big deal as it was meant to be Austarlia's happy hunting ground and so the result should not be taken seriously. Just play the natural game you have faced better...

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