India v Sri Lanka, CB Series, Perth February 8, 2012

Dhoni not pleased with middle-order shot selection

MS Dhoni is not pleased that India's middle order - he is a part of it - let Sri Lanka back in with ill-advised strokes, but he doesn't want to be too harsh on Rohit Sharma, who has scored 0, 21 and 10 in three innings without looking convincing. There were many calls for Virat Kohli to be dropped early in the Test series, and VVS laxman towards the end, to give Rohit a chance. Dhoni, however, doesn't want Rohit to play under the constant pressure of keeping his place in the side, which is why India are rotating the top three batsmen and not the middle order.

"We are looking to give Rohit as many games as possible and we can afford to do that in the first leg of the tournament. Hopefully we can rotate the openers, or you may see the openers again," Dhoni said. "It's not an easy thing to do. You get a chance, and you are always expected to perform in those couple of chances, but it's very important to give a long run to a batsman like him.

"We all talk about the talent he [Rohit] has got. He goes back to domestic cricket, he still scores a lot. He plays IPL, the best of bowlers, and scores runs. So we all know he has got the talent to easily prove himself at top level. We need to back him, and we believe in the kind of talent he has. Hopefully in the next few games he will get going, and that will be a big boost because he is somebody who can field really well both at the boundary and inside the circle. And also if needed he can bowl a bit of offspin."

Dhoni didn't like the shot selection in Perth, though. "I'm happy with the win," Dhoni said. "I agree that there were a few shots that we shouldn't have played but mistakes do happen in the game, but it's good that we ended up on the winning side. We could have lost this game also. Hopefully we won't repeat the mistakes in the coming games. Intensity wasn't over the top in fielding but still up to the mark. Middle overs went well, but batting department can improve a bit."

One of the players yet to get a chance - a proper run - is Irfan Pathan. You would have thought Australian pitches would have been ideal for a seaming allrounder, but Ravindra Jadeja has kept Irfan out. "The last time he played, I wasn't part of the side, I was rested," Dhoni said when asked if he saw Irfan as an allrounder. "I don't' think he got much opportunity to bat. He has come back and we would like to give him a few games. Ideally he is someone who suits the job very well. He can bat and bowl well also. Ideally he is the one, but he needs to do the batting part and bowling part also."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo