Australia v India, 5th ODI, Sydney January 23, 2016

Top-order success down to experience - Dhoni

ESPNcricinfo staff

MS Dhoni felt absence of a settled bowling group played a part in the eventual series scoreline © Getty Images

India somewhat made amends for the botched Canberra chase on Saturday at the SCG by becoming the first team to chase down a 300-plus target against Australia in Australia. Along the way, they also halted Australia's record 18-match winning streak at home.

The man who played a monumental role in handing Australia a six-wicket loss was Manish Pandey, who struck an enterprising unbeaten 104 after the stiff chase of 330 was set up courtesy a 123-run opening stand in just 18.2 overs between Shikhar Dhawan (78) and Rohit Sharma (99).

"I got the chance to bat at No.4 because Ajju (Rahane) was injured. Seeing the way the wickets have been behaving, with 300 being scored each game, it's tough to get a chance at No. 6, so I thought I should make use of my chance at four," Pandey said. "It was good to bat with the captain. His encouraging words helped."

MS Dhoni, far from his destructive best in his 42-ball 34, attributed the win to consistency of the top order. "Last time, we spoke about our batsmen being young and how they will be successful over time across all conditions if persisted with," he said. "This is a result of sustaining with the same set of players.

"The top order has been together for a long time now. They are all experienced. Especially in this series, considering all the matches have produced 300-plus totals, you needed that, and so the experience counts. Where we have been hurt is our lower-order batting, that's where Manish did really well today."

As happy as he was with the batting, Dhoni hinted at a strong show with the ball towards the death that helped India save precious runs. India conceded just 28 off the last four overs to round off a mixed show, where Jasprit Bumrah, the debutant, was the pick of the lot with figures of 2 for 40 off his ten overs.

"The first four games were quite close but we didn't close it out well, which is important in the ODI format," he said. "Every over matters in a high-scoring game. If you bowl two or three overs that go for 15-20 runs it really puts a lot of pressure when you're chasing. It makes it easy for the opposition."

Dhoni felt the absence of a settled bowling group also played its part in the overall series score of 4-1 in Australia's favour. "We wanted to pick bowlers who hit the deck hard, we decided even if they go for runs, you still have guys who bowl fast," he explained. "This is perhaps the only time where our set of bowlers was faster than Australia's. That's the positive. But at the same time, you can't only rely on pace. You need to close down overs well. You can't keep giving away 15 or 20-run overs."

Looking ahead to the T20s, Dhoni said his biggest challenge was in managing some of the older players, albeit in a cryptic manner. "We have to improve our fielding slightly," he said. "A few of the experienced players will be joining us. The grounds here are big, and if you don't have a good shoulder, there will be a lot of pressure. That's what is crucial in conditions like these. If we manage that well, we will have an exciting T20 series."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricinfouser on January 23, 2016, 23:49 GMT

    Why is it that when India visis Aus then the pitches mysteriously turn flat???

  • Manan on January 23, 2016, 22:14 GMT

    Rahane , Rohit, kohli , Dhoni , M Pandey , Raina , H Pandya , Jadeja , Ashwin, Shami , Sandeep Sharma. Raina can bowl 5 overs easily and consider as an all rounder with hardik pandya and jadeja. Ashwin coming 9 with a lot depth in batting. Excellent fielding unit with pandey raina rahane kohli jadeja and rohit. Sorry to exclude shikhar dhawan but he never convinced me as an opner. Can work only in flat pitches. I got fairly same opinion for rohit but keep him a one more chance

  • Jayanth on January 23, 2016, 16:59 GMT

    @alex400 .. Almost always the idian bowling is compared to 'clubside bowing' and such .. Australian batsmen or batsmen from other teams have scored heavily , more recently mumbai 2015 . So should none of us recognize the batting against such bowling attacks? Especially in a chase in sydney or canaberra, for that matter the previous ones as well in the series. 3rd string or not its home conditons for australian bowlers. By ur logic any of the runs scored by australians is worthless cuz its against a rubbish attack .. Right?

  • Siddharth on January 23, 2016, 16:59 GMT

    @ SUNILVAIDYA have you only just started watching cricket? Rohit and Dhawan are good but you are doing a huge disservice to Sehwag, Sachin and Ganguly.

  • Madhusudhan on January 23, 2016, 16:26 GMT

    No. Top-order's success is due to flat tracks.

  • Rohan on January 23, 2016, 15:25 GMT

    @Alexk400 pattinson wasnt injured, he was nt included, if we had Shami, Mohit, and Harbhajan we could have restricted them in 250, lolz

  • Jayanth on January 23, 2016, 15:18 GMT

    A possible reason why he seems to lack his earlier energy at the crease is maybe because he is sheparding a new/weak lower middle order. He had yuvraj and raina coming in before and after him.. Then there was a period when kohli was coming in 2 down..the lack of a stable top order player before him especially is probably one of the reasons for his 'hit late' strategy. The most obvious problem he faces now is the lowered striking ability. Haven't seen the helicoptor shot in a year or so now.. Bowlers dare to bowl full to him now..

  • Jayanth on January 23, 2016, 15:12 GMT

    Today's chase was a big indicator/case in point/ empirical evidence that dhoni simply cannot continue 'believing' he can play a whole lot of dot balls and attempt scoring, he didnt even try scoring much for the 1st 22-24 balls if his innings, later on. When he did try his shots one was a dropped catch and one was an edge short of 3rd man, so easily couldve gone wrong for him. Laxman post match had it right.. His strategy needs to be tweaked a little.. He was always a busy player.. Running hard etc.. Less dot balls. That seems to have disappeared over the last 2 years when he decides to just play on till the 49th over. He can be around for another season till india can unearth another finisher(no one can be as finished a finisher dhoni already was hence the one year atleast).

  • Alex on January 23, 2016, 14:58 GMT

    Aussie played their third string bowlers so india can score 300+. If they played starc and pattinson , india would not have scored more than 250.

  • Ashok on January 23, 2016, 14:42 GMT

    I would attribute this India Win due to more team work than just top 4 bats. Indian top 4 bats played brilliantly thru' the series & I am tremendously impressed by their showing. But it the the rest of the team that showed lack of guts. Today Bumrah led the way with great bowling spell of 2 for 40 in 10 overs- best economy rate while taking 2 wkts. Jadeja added 0-46 in 10 overs. thus India gave just 86 runs in 20 overs to compensate for very expensive Rishi & Umesh-156 runs in 20 overs! In batting Dhoni played a fine supporting role to help Manish drive India into Winners. So India had a 5th bat for the first time + great pace bowling X-Factor in Bumrah! so instead of 277 for 1 to 323 All out we had 231 for 3 to 331 for 4 with 2 balls to spare. In my opinion India deserved to win the series if only they had one bowler like Bumrah & a 5th bat in Dhoni, right thru' the Series. That was the difference. Lesson: The Selectors need to plan their squad better !

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