Australia v India, 1st ODI, Perth January 12, 2016

Spinners should have bowled better - Dhoni

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Dhoni disappointed with spinners, unsure of DRS

On the eve of India's first ODI in the bilateral series against Australia, MS Dhoni expressed concern that none of his batsmen might be able to offer any overs should any of his specialist bowlers have a day off. As it turned out, India failed to defend 309 on a flat Perth pitch, and India missed that extra bowler dearly.

In fact Dhoni tried to sneak in a cheap over or two from Rohit Sharma when Australia had lost two early wickets, but the hosts went after Rohit, and also the specialist spin bowling of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. The fact that the two spinners went for 129 runs in 18 overs rattled India's captain. "You have to realise, yesterday when I spoke [about the lack of part-time bowlers] I was talking more about the fast bowlers," Dhoni said. "If they don't have a very good day, I will have to use the spinner. I never thought the spinners will have a very bad day and the others will have to share the responsibility.

"If you see the bowling department the fast bowlers did a very good job. The spinners could have bowled a little better, in the sense that if they would have just avoided the easy boundary deliveries... If the batsman hits you over long-on and long-off, fair enough, it is always a good shot, and with a bit of risk involved. You have to make sure with the field restrictions that you don't get hit in an area where you don't have a fielder. That is something we will have to avoid."

You can empathise with a bit of Dhoni's helplessness. The spinners have been his pride. He has won the Champions Trophy in England through spin. Through spin he took India to the World T20 final in Bangladesh. Through spin he won a bilateral ODI series in England in 2014. Now that the fast bowlers gave his defence of 309 a good start, Dhoni found himself unable to set fields for his spinners. What do you do when your most trusted weapons let you down?

"They [Australia] played a few big shots, but other than that was the time when they rotated [the strike] really well. They were still getting six, even more than six, an over. That was an area where there was a lot of pressure on us because the spinners also went for quite a few boundaries. I felt that was a phase where we could have bowled slightly differently. Other than that the fast bowlers bowled really well."

Given India's bowling - they conceded 438 in the last match they played - and given how much the Australian batsmen have plundered them of late, you did wonder if India were urgent enough in putting the runs on the board once they got off to a good start. The four overs immediately after the 40th brought India just 26 runs, and the fifth resulted in Virat Kohli's wicket, only the second India had lost until then. Dhoni was asked about that period of play. He didn't find much wrong in India's approach, but also conceded his bowlers might have taught him a tough lesson in that regard.

"You have to look at what could have been a good score," Dhoni said. "As I said 310 was a very good score. They batted really well, still they reached it in the last over. Which means I feel if we had bowled slightly better we could have put more pressure on them. Maybe induce a few big shots early in the innings.

"Always you can debate you could have played a bit more aggressive cricket at that point of time. Also you have to realise once the platform is set at that time what happens if you lose a couple of wickets? What we saw was, it was easier for the set batsmen to hit. Even for the Australian batsmen the set batsmen were hitting the big shots. More difficult for the newcomers. That is a catch-22. Yes we had wickets in hand, and could have pushed for 15-20 more runs, but also you have to look at the other side, what if we didn't reach 310? Overall if you see maybe if we are in the same situation we may bat slightly differently. Still on this wicket, I felt 310 was a very good score."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricfan1217 on January 15, 2016, 0:13 GMT

    Jadeja outside sub continent is liability . A.patel is no different . Neither of two can contribute massive with bat . It would have been better K .yadav wrist leg spinner chinaman can be used a surprise weapon against Aussies . India team need variety in bowling department . It would have been better If H.pandya is int the team as all rounder . Why our fans are criticizing R.sharma and V.kohli . In my opinion it was superb inning by both . DHawan should be dropped from the team on current form . In current situation if i had to pick X1 for the next match i would : Dhawan Rohit kohli Rahane Pandey G.singh Msd Bhuvi Ishant Umesh Saran . G,singh can play the role of fifth bowler . Full pace attack is the way to go in Aus flat pitches . In the next series i would replace Dhawan --S.Iyer R.dhawan --- H.pandya R.jadeja --- S.Raina A.patel --- K.yadav Bhuvi --- M.shami .

  • Samuel Vimal Raja on January 14, 2016, 23:03 GMT

    First of all everyone and dhoni should understand these are not spinners pitch. How much overs do Australian spinners bowl or how many spinners did Australian team had ? these are fast bowling conditions in Australia . their place bowlers did not pick wickets but they contained runs when needed. Dhoni should stop complaining and crying and start to be an aggressive captain.

  • balaji28 on January 14, 2016, 9:44 GMT

    If anybody had closely watched the match,ashwin gave away 48 to 50 runs in his first 5 overs,where the field setting was totally defensive with lots of holes that made aussie life easy as ashwin was originally bowling in a attacking over the wicket line irrespective of the run flow.While in his 2nd spell,Ashwin was bowling defensive round the wicket and he gave a 18 to 20 runs in 4 overs and also ashwin took 2 important wickets viz george bailey and glenn maxwell in consecutive overs and he nearly took the wickets of steve smith too,steve smith started stammering when ashwin bowled round the wicket.My conclusion if ashwin had bowled round the wicket throughout the match the result would havebeen different.In Gabba,Ashwin needs to bowl round the wicket and he will surely make aussie life difficult.In syndey or adelaide,Ashwin can try bowling the attacking over the wicket line.Same correction needs to be done by Jaddu too.If everything happens correctly,India will surely win the 2ndODI

  • Nampally on January 13, 2016, 19:40 GMT

    I have no complaints about the Indian batting. Rohit played a superb innings & Kohli not far behind, to consolidate a big Indian total. Dhawan scored Just 9 runs of 22 balls from 40 ball in a 38 run opening partnership. Slow Dhawan - Mistake #1. Apart from that I have nothing but praise for the batting & the S/R. #2: Choice of bowlers was poor. 4 pace + 1 spinner on Perth is the best choice & Dhoni failed badly! #3: why did Rohit Sharma bowl- 1 over for 11 runs when Bhuvi had an over left? Bhuvi had an economy rate of 4.6/over in 9 overs- best for India! #4: Bailey's CBW cost India over 100 runs + Match. Dhoni should never blame Ashwin & Jadeja when he erred by choosing 2 spinners instead of 1. Even so, Ashwin got 2 crucial wkts albeit expensive whilst Sran got the other 3. Perth is a batting wkt. & pace friendly - not a Nagpur "Turner"! In a close match, all these mistakes got magnified. By far the biggest unacceptable one being the "inexcusable Umpiring Blunder"!

  • CricketItihas on January 13, 2016, 17:24 GMT

    Nothing wrong in playing 2 spinners in Australia even in Perth. But the ideal combination would be Mishra-Kuldeep and not Ashwin-Jadeja.

  • See_the_obvious on January 13, 2016, 12:27 GMT

    Mr Dhoni, You should be aggressive in the field set and make the opponent make mistakes. Instead, you let them take the singles without breaking sweat. How do you expect the bowler to take wickets, when you had given the free pass to the batsman on the other side without pressure. Fact is, the spinners need to bowl more balls to the same batsman to work them out, not a strike rotation. The results of the next matches will be the same, even Ashwin & Jaddu/whosoever bowls with this defensive mindset and fielding. Play aggressively and still you lose, take it graciously within the spirit of the game, as there can be only one winner at the end. BTW, the new guy (Sran) looks a good prospect. You should not over-burden him with more expectation and ruin him like Irfan pathan. It is better for you, not to talk about him in Media (both Good or Bad), which will serve the purpose. Good luck to both Teams !!!

  • MartinJose on January 13, 2016, 11:32 GMT

    @saradindu.datta..You are absolutely correct..Rohit & Kohli should have started attacking aggressively from 31st over onwards..Again,Current Indian team has only 3 hard hitters..But,unfortunately they are in the top of the batting order.. Rohit,Dhawan & Kohli.......By saying "Spinners should have bowled better ",Dhoni only mean that he is not going to try Rishi Dhawan atleast in next match..He's going to give chance to 2 spinners next game..Clever guy ..But fading in his batting & captaincy too..

  • saradindu.datta on January 13, 2016, 10:37 GMT

    India should select the team according to the condition. In Australia dont think two spinners strategy will work. India should give chance to the Rishi Dhawan as a fast bowler alrounder instead of Jadeja/Ashwin. Even I think in modern days limited over cricket the role of spinners are very limited except in the sub continent condition where the pitch will be suited for spinners. Dhoni should look at the aggressive options instead of defensive options . Am not sure about the Openers role to play upto 40 overs instead of taking risk from the first ball. If openers( max one down) will play for 40 overs, then what is the role of Rahane in the team. There is no hard hitting batsman in the team . Dont think Dhoni will play a role as a hard hitting batsman.

  • TheRipper on January 13, 2016, 10:25 GMT

    All those criticizing Ashwin just take look at his bowling stats in the last world cup held in Australia. Here is the stats for spinners with most wickets:- Ashwin 13 wickets at 25 in 8 matches. Tahir 15 wickets at 21 in 8 matches. Vettori 15 wickets at 20 in 9 matches. And world cup was played on these same flat pitches. Now eat some humble pie.

  • Chris_P on January 13, 2016, 9:28 GMT

    Even the Aussies & The Western Australian team don't take more than one spinner & lots of times none, so I am still trying to work out why India went in with 2 on a pitch that has a long, long history of not favouring spinners? I think people are to hard on India's spinners as the pitch virtually made them slow bowlers, no spin, just slow up and down. That meant less consistent pressure to put on our batting. On this pitch, & I'll call it, it was rubbish, the Perth groundsman should be sacked, the sooner they move to Burswood the better, all batsmen should have feasted so therein lies the problem. On this pitch, 309 wasn't high enough & it appeared easy for our batsmen to pace themselves to this target. Hopefully more exciting cricket awaits us. Cheers to the serious Indian cricket follower.

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