Dhoni enjoys happy homecoming
The best players appear to write their own scripts and MS Dhoni admitted that his had been "perfect" for the third ODI against England in Ranchi, where he grew up. The India captain watched his bowlers wreck the England innings and then strolled out to hit the winning boundary with almost 22 overs to spare. Alastair Cook, meanwhile, was in no doubt that England need to improve before the next match in Mohali on Wednesday.
The seven-wicket win was India's second comprehensive victory in a row over England and put them 2-1 ahead in the five-match series, allowing Dhoni to reflect with satisfaction on his team's efforts. Before the Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium's international debut he had called the ground a "nine out of ten", though it may now be closer to full marks.
"Yuvi got out, so I got an opportunity to bat," he said. "At one stage it did not look if I would get to bat. I cannot say it was good that I got to bat, they will beat me in the dressing room. Execution is very important.
"[This stadium has some] of the best facilities. The response from the people has been amazing. Everything went off well, we won the game, it was a perfect script."
Dhoni's day had got off to a good start when he won the toss and, despite the predictions of a good batting surface, chose to bowl. He was rewarded by his pace bowlers' early consistency, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar again getting through his allocation in one spell, before the spinners chipped in to undermine England's middle order. Partnerships of 67 between Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli and 66 between Kohli and Yuvraj Singh then set up a simple win.
"The bowlers did the job for us," Dhoni said. "It was important to take wickets with the new ball. Most of the [India] bowlers are new. Bhuvi and Shami [Ahmed] have just got into the side. I expect contributions from them. They will get a lot of confidence out of this."
Dhoni also hailed Ravindra Jadeja's performance - 3 for 19 in this match - and said he was a perfect fit for the bowling allrounder's spot, especially with the new fielding restrictions in place. "He is definitely someone who is giving us that balance. In that way, Jadeja is the perfect person to have," Dhoni said. "We have been struggling with the bowling allrounder. Irfan [Pathan] is the only one that we have got.
"Before the new rules were introduced, we used to rely on Yuvraj Singh and other part timers to get over with the 10 overs. But with the new rule, Yuvi will need a bit more time to settle down as a bowler. We just need to keep faith in him [Jadeja] and hope he will get better and better. Bowling wise, he's quite settled; it's the batting department that we need to work on. He is also an excellent fielder."
The defeat was England's 18th in their last 21 ODIs against India in India and Cook was well aware that for the second match in a row the batting performance had been inadequate. "One-fifty was nowhere near enough on that pitch," he said. "We were not going to defend that unless it was a freak day.
"We tried our hardest in the field but the damage had been done. What's a concern and frustrating is that we didn't get out to many attacking shots, they were defensive shots. We've got the potential to do well out here, but we are not doing it out in the middle at the moment. The ball probably skidded on nicer in the second innings and we knew that would happen."
Although England cannot be whitewashed, as they were in their last two ODI tours of the country, they face losing the series with a match to spare unless they can turn in an improved performance in the fourth match. Cook said: "We are still in it but we have to regroup and look deep in the dressing room and produce a better performance in Mohali.".