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October 30, 2013
MS Dhoni backs bowlers to adjust to tough rules
Until a couple of weeks ago, India had never chased down a target over 350. Now, they've done it twice in three completed matches. While India's chase of 351 against Australia in Nagpur on Wednesday featured more success for Shikhar Dhawan, another Virat Kohli special and helped the team draw level in the series with one to play, it left captain MS Dhoni questioning the new ODI rules once again.
"I think [the rules are] something that we need to sit and think about if 350 is the new 280 or 290 or 300," Dhoni said after the match. "With the rule changes and everything, most of the bowlers are getting smashed with the extra fielder inside. Even the best of the bowlers, the fast bowlers, are bowling with third man and fine leg up.
"It was more of a fight as to which side bowls less badly. With the extra fielder inside, if you are slightly off target, it goes for a boundary. A few of the bowlers are disappointed, they actually feel it will be better off to put a bowling machine there. It is a new challenge for the bowlers."
Dhoni was referring to the new rule that came into play from October 30, 2012, which allows only four fielders outside the 30-yard circle in non-Powerplay overs. Dhoni had earlier voiced his doubts over the new rules, which have visibly been limiting his already-thin bowling resources in this series. Before the Champions Trophy in England in June, which India had won, he had said the rules would pose one of the biggest challenges for his side. At the toss in Mohali during this series, Dhoni said something to the tune of "I don't know what they want us to do [with all the new rules]". Then, his team-mate Suresh Raina had spoken out against the rules in Ranchi.
In all, three times in four completed games in this series targets of over 300 have been chased down successfully - and in India's case, with relative ease. Dhoni said such run scoring could hurt the one-day game. "I don't know where it is going. Is it good in the long run that we are seeing - for seven hours - only fours and sixes?"
While there was some smart batting from his team-mates in Nagpur, Dhoni said the dew and the rules meant the chase was "slightly easy". "Shikhar of course got a century, but with Rohit [Sharma] it was one of the days when he wasn't getting the gaps and it would have been easy to get frustrated when you are looking to chase 350. But he absorbed the pressure, and then converted the start and by the time he got out he had a decent strike rate.
"We knew a bit of dew will come later. And now it is slightly easy. You can break it into Twenty20 games. At 30 overs, if we need even 170-odd runs with wickets in hand, and with one more Powerplay and the extra fielder inside [the circle] … 180 is something every team will look to achieve in the last 20 overs."
Dhawan and Rohit set up the chase with their fifth century stand in ODIs this year, before Kohli once again showed how lethal he is in the chase - he scored his 11th century in 69 chases, and India have won all 11 of those matches. He made batting look simple, Dhoni said. "Virat was brilliant. As the ball got old, with the kind of fast bowlers they have and a bit of reverse swing, they were attacking almost all the batsmen. But he counterattacked. He was maintaining a good position when going for the big shots. He made it look easy.
"When I went in to bat, it was difficult for the new batsman. But the way he took the pressure off the new batsman, it was amazing."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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