Dhoni concedes India done in by pressure of chase
Although he thought the total was "just over par," MS Dhoni said failing to capitalise on their early momentum in the chase and the lack of depth in their batting order contributed to India's semi-final exit at the World Cup.
Australia had amassed 328 - the highest total made in a World Cup semi-final - in Sydney on the back of a century from Steven Smith. India's reply had begun promisingly with the openers putting together 76 runs in 12.5 overs but when Australia found their first wicket - Shikhar Dhawan crunching a lofted drive into deep cover's hands for 45 - three more came their way in no time and India were 108 for 4 in the 23rd over and the pressure began to show.
"I felt we got off to a very good start. Shikhar's dismissal to some extent was slightly on the softer side because that was the time he could have milked the Australian bowling. He was scoring quite freely and with the open field, he should have just batted for a few more overs and he didn't really need to play a big shot.
"But overall, there is pressure when you're chasing 320 runs and we have seen in cricket that pressure makes you do things you don't really want to do"
Dhoni walked out with to tackle a run-rate on the wrong side of eight. India have been in such situations before having run down 15 targets above 300 - an ODI record - but there weren't too many weak links in a bowling line-up featuring Mitchell Starc, with a strike rate 16.7 and economy of 3.65, Mitchell Johnson, who appeared fiercer and faster today, and Josh Hazlewood, who hits nagging lengths. Dhoni, who made 65, progressed at a strike rate under 100 for 55 balls mindful of the lack of power-hitters down the order. Meanwhile, the required rate had gone into double-digits.
"There was too many to chase because if you lose quite a few wickets and if you are supposed to chase over six runs an over and also the fact that our lower order... I don't think they can contribute as much in these conditions," he said. "So it makes it further difficult, but overall I thought it was a good exposure to them and maybe the next time they play in other conditions they'll know how to bat in these conditions and will do much better.
"Our lower order slightly needs to work harder on their batting because most of the good teams bat quite deep and we have seen, especially in the knockout stages, you need to bat deep"
Despite a decent effort from the bowlers at the top and the tail of the Australian innings, Dhoni hoped his quicks could find a higher gear.
"Over 300 is a difficult score to chase, but I felt it was just over par. They were looking as if they were going to score over 340, or maybe 350 runs but we came back quite well. But I felt still we could have bowled well, the reason being, in the afternoon we got a bit of reverse swing going. I was a bit personally worried about the spinners, without any footmarks on a fresh wicket but I think their performance was good. But I felt the fast bowlers could have done slightly better.
"Overall, quite happy with where we were," he said. "At the start of the tournament, a lot of people didn't really think we'll come so far but at the same time when you come to the knockouts you have to lift your game"