'Rain hampered spinners' - Dhoni
MS Dhoni has blamed rain for making the India bowlers, especially the three specialist spinners, ineffective against Shane Watson and David Warner in his side's heavy defeat to Australia in their first Super Eights game. India had left out senior batsman Virender Sehwag to include a third spinner but Dhoni said Harbhajan Singh, R Ashwin and Piyush Chawla were unable to grip the wet ball during Australia's chase, resulting in the trio going for a collective 66 runs in 6.5 overs.
"We played with five bowlers in the last match [against England] and their performance was very good then," Dhoni said. "To say that the bowlers didn't bowl well based on this one match would be wrong because we need to take into consideration the conditions as well. It rained towards the end of our innings. The umpire let the game go on for a little while but when it came down heavily it was stopped. After one over, they had an option to take the roller and they took the right roller. Then when we came out to bowl, it rained again.
"When the ball gets wet there is not much there for the spinners. All the spinners that we had, whether it was three [specialist] spinners or the part-timers, all of them didn't bowl well. Either they bowled a few short-pitched deliveries or full tosses which meant that there was no real grip for them and that was the main reason we were not able to put pressure on the Australians."
India had earlier chosen to bat but had struggled against the pace and bounce of the Australia fast bowlers on a slow Premadasa pitch and had managed to post just 140. Dhoni said India should have got more runs, considering how the first half of their innings had progressed.
"We had 70-odd runs for the loss of two wickets in the first ten overs and then we lost one more wicket quickly and soon we were five down," he said. "So we were under a bit of pressure as we needed to score runs and play out the next ten overs as well. So we decided to set a target that we can defend. We had a score of 145-150 in mind but we hadn't thought about the rain, that it would rain like this."
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo