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

Need to bring about a bit more shift in my batting, admits Dhoni


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Found it difficult to go in and play big shots - Dhoni

MS Dhoni has not been finishing off matches of late. Against South Africa, in Kanpur last year, he came in to bat with 90 required off the last 10 overs. India needed 11 off the last over. Dhoni scored 31 off 30 in India's defeat. In Rajkot later in the series, he scored 47 off 61 and was part of a slowdown after the 30th over, which cost India the match. Dhoni himself fell in the 42nd over. In Canberra he fell third ball when India lost needed 72 at under a run a ball with eight wickets in hand.

In Sydney, Dhoni came in with the asking rate under seven, but his 34 off 42 played a big part in the asking rate reaching two a ball towards the end. Along the way, though, he shepherded a young Manish Pandey although he did enjoy some luck: he was dropped once and reprieved when plumb lbw. In trademark fashion, he took the game to the last over, and in trademark fashion, he biffed hit the first ball for six to ease the pressure.

With question marks all around him, Dhoni later spoke about how difficult finishing matches for India is. "When there's a big-hitting batsman there, if he gets out, you hear, 'What was the need of that shot?'," Dhoni said. "If that same shot goes for six, everyone applauds. How we bat in the lower middle order is, the main motto is to win the match. People say that even if you have a 51% success rate, it's very high.

"You have to give [the finishers] the benefit of doubt. And yes, it is my responsibility [to finish games], it's my job and I'll always take it. But at the same time, there will be times when I won't finish the job. The others have also come to play; it's not like there is a mark on my forehead because I'm batting lower down that says: 'Oh he's there, so we have won the match.' It doesn't happen like that. If someone bowls a good yorker, he bowls a good yorker. You can't hit it for six. Sometimes people complain that I haven't hit a helicopter shot - but if it's a bouncer, how will anyone hit a helicopter shot? You have to respond to things as they happen and accordingly change your batting."

Dhoni was asked if he needs to adapt the way he closes the innings with the way the game is developing. "Till we don't get a settled five, six and seven, I'll have to bat lower down the order," Dhoni said, which might mean he doesn't have any plans to retire from the ODIs. "For which I will have to slightly adapt. I find it a bit difficult to go in and play the big shot [immediately]. More often than not, I've batted after the 30th over. Got a chance to play like five to seven overs, and then go and then play the big shot. I've always found it slightly difficult. It's not an easy job. Nobody has found it easy to straightaway go and play the big shot.

"I [still] think that will be my responsibility, because I don't see any other youngster doing that job. I would love to bat up the order but I don't see it happening. I'll have to maybe do a bit more shift in my batting and adapt in a way where I can straightaway go in and try to play a big shot. But overall, you know, this series, the only opportunity where I could have scored 40-45 was the last game where we needed like 80 or something. That was a lost opportunity. Other than that, in the first three games, the way I batted, I couldn't have done much. If you're getting out in the 48th-49th over, you can't get any more runs than what you have. Or the second option is, you try to play not-out, which I don't think is the kind of cricket we want to play. We'll try to adapt. I think that's what my responsibility will be in the coming ODIs that I would be playing."

Dhoni also in a roundabout way said it was not always the fault of the lower middle order if a seemingly easy chase was botched up. In response to a question about whether Pandey surprised him with such a composed performance, Dhoni said: "A lot of times, whenever people score big runs and then they play a big shot and get out, nobody asks any questions. But I think the real question is, if you play a big shot and get out when you go in, whether that is something that needs to be criticised or people who are set and need to carry their innings forward.

"You have to form that balance of what is needed at that point according to the demands of the game. You can't say, 'This is how I bat.' The real talent is to adapt to the needs of the game, and that's how you develop as players. If you want to serve in international cricket for a long time, you have to adapt because every game is different. All conditions, pitches, bowlers are different."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kshitij on January 26, 2016, 2:17 GMT

    @Cktlover - its not dhoni's fault that a so called weaker bowler mitch marsh was asked to bowl the last over. Grow up mate.

  • sabapathy on January 24, 2016, 19:41 GMT

    First of all Team India need skilled bowlers. Pace alone won't do. Bowler need to be smart and use brain during different situations. Though Umesh has good pace, his line and thoughtless bowling costing matches. Ishanth is not impressive. It doesn't matter having many batsmen, as long as India do not have fierce attacking bowling, it is very difficult to win games.

  • Siddharth Bhaskar on January 24, 2016, 18:38 GMT

    Dhoni.....quit !!! Please ...i beg you, retire from the game and leave with honor

  • Abelbenshepherds on January 24, 2016, 17:46 GMT

    It seems like dhoni looked disturbed and trying to save his spot while batting.which he don't have to because he is confirmed as team leader till he retire himself.And India seriously need a good bowling coach. No captain can win matches with this set of bowlers except you make your own pitches .So only thing is tosay good luck to our sixer dhoni .

  • DeepanSamraj on January 24, 2016, 15:51 GMT

    I don't think Dhoni will retire any time soon. He's talking about his role in the team in future. 'Dhoni should at least play until 2019 world cup' , Sehwag said a few months ago. 2019 is a long goal, but Dhoni will be back with a bang with the bat and captaincy.

  • Vishal on January 24, 2016, 15:11 GMT

    This entire article is a fuss about how Dhoni trying to justify himself and his place in this team. Can't he just admit that he has past everything he was. Even the decision making and strategy expert. It's clearly tangible to every one. Perhaps it's time for him to look into the mirror and call it a day gracefully rather than making a fun of himself which legends often make of themselves. And please don't compare him to SRT. He was way better than Dhoni in his twilight. Dhoni is developing into a joke and losing all his respect among younger crop.

  • sureshraj on January 24, 2016, 15:02 GMT

    Dhoni, Thanks for all the Cups, thrills and entertainment. It is time to move on.

  • DeepanSamraj on January 24, 2016, 12:24 GMT

    @Cricketnuffie Monga is right mate. It was the first ball he faced of Hastings, got inside edge. But later he was plumb of Faulkner's ball. There was no bat, ball pitched on line and was going to hit the middle stump.

  • Madhusudhan on January 24, 2016, 12:24 GMT

    MSD needs a shift in career status. He should be shifted from playing to retired status.

  • BIKIRAN on January 24, 2016, 10:55 GMT

    Well, if bowlers aren't giving anything to drive, better start cutting and pulling rather than waiting for the full ball.He used to play the cut and pull when he was younger.

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