India v SA, 1st ODI, Kanpur October 11, 2015

Dhoni takes blame for botched chase

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'When you bat down the order, you have to take the blame' - Dhoni

One over left. Eleven runs to get. MS Dhoni on strike. A 20-year old to bowl. Nails chewed off and throats screamed hoarse, the Kanpur crowd were hoping for the fairytale finish. The India captain was hoping for the same as well, but his skills have declined in the back end of his career and his team's discipline had gone the same way in the back end of today's match.

"I felt the first 30-35 overs were very good for us, especially when we were bowling," Dhoni said. "And it was the same when we were batting. Close to 35 overs, we batted really well. But there are a few areas that we have to work on."

One of them being Dhoni's ability to finish an innings off. "Maaro," he said with a smile, when asked what had been going through his mind in the final over. Dhoni did try for much of his innings. Where previously he would have backed his strength to clear the boundary in front of him, today he got his first by scooping Dale Steyn over the wicketkeeper. The rest of his 30-ball 31 was fueled by his ability to run twos. But, with sixes needed, he could only plop a catch back to Kagiso Rabada and that was that. The "gamble," as Dhoni put it, did not come off.

"It's not an easy job, it doesn't always work your way, especially you know, you have to play the big shot. At times [when] the wicket is great and is coming on nicely to the bat, more often than not, you use the pace of the bowler and get away with it. But [on] the wickets like these where the average bounce is a bit low, they can still hit the deck hard and the ball doesn't really bounce as much as it should. So it becomes it slightly difficult."

While Dhoni had trouble timing the ball, South Africa ransacked 109 runs in the final 10 overs to record the first 300-plus total at the Green Park stadium. Well north of the "260-270" runs that Dhoni thought could be chased down. So the blame was placed on death bowling, again.

"It was disappointing because there was reverse swing on offer for the fast bowlers. They should have executed the yorkers or even the back of a length, hitting the deck delivery could have been used more effectively. But we were not able to do that.

"If there is some kind of help, we have to make sure we don't give away too many runs. I think there were two occasions where in in two overs we gave close to 40 runs. That's a lot of runs irrespective of the format."

It is difficult to put the loss entirely on the bowlers when they have a set AB de Villiers to deal with. Besides, India seemed to have the match won with a sublime riposte from Rohit Sharma. But finishing things off became a problem for the second time in a day. Dhoni did concede that was his "job in the side" but seemed a little grouchy about it.

"Yes, when you bat down the order you have to take the blame especially because of the fact that when you finish many games, people always remember the ones you have not finished. One was, of course, the England one, this is another one and one I remember we were playing Sri Lanka at Rajkot that was a few years back."

Dhoni also felt that India's batsmen could have been a touch more proactive in the overs leading up to the final 10. "Personally I felt close to the 40th over mark, the four-five overs leading to it, those were crucial because we should have got a bit more runs. I'm not saying we should have played a few big shots, but we could have got a few more runs in those particular overs."

When you bat down the order, you have to take the blame especially because of the fact when you finish many games, people always remember the ones you have not finished
MS Dhoni

That the target India had to chase went beyond their ability was also because they lost their best bowler R Ashwin to a side strain midway through the match.

"At that point of time, I had eight overs of Ashwin which I felt I really missed in this game. Of course, he got injured [and] we can't really help it but till that point of time the game was on [because] we were not giving runs to them. After that, the few overs that were shared by Raina and Stuart Binny, those were the ones where we conceded a fair amount of runs, if not a lot. Then the last few overs, the death bowling was not good.

"Still there are a lot of positives that I can take out of this game. We need to give credit to our players given the fact that you missed one of your main bowlers [for] six, seven or eight overs, it is not easy to bowl [and make up for that], specially if you have to bowl after the 30th over onwards.

"The way we started, Rohit and Ajinkya's partnership in the middle and the way Rohit carried on even after getting a hundred. It was hot and humid, but overall the way he batted and carried on, that was very remarkable."

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sunit on October 14, 2015, 8:59 GMT

    Inclusion of players like Gurkeerat, Rishi Dhawan, Duvarappu Sivakumar, Sanju Samson, Mayank Agarwal, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer in national side in various matches for next 1 year will change the fate of men in blue. Questions like best opening pair & Middle order in test, middle order stability in Odi, Who will keep wickets in ODI after Dhoni, requirement of fast bowling All rounders inn Tests & odi, Fast bowling option beyond Dhawal Kulkarni. And more over a strong bench, which obviously does not include players like Binny and Axar (the worst options for allrounders), suggests that Indian Cricket do got a bright future.

  • Cricinfouser on October 14, 2015, 5:24 GMT

    If dhoni bats at 3 or 4 (where he has best avg above others) he can settle and score in ones n twos even though out of form. Rahanes n kohalis etc cant even score run a ball in middle overs. thus there will be less pressure on 6 n7 no batters and they may not have to score at RRR 8-9-10 etc. Then binnies etc can easily sail through remaining overs with RRR 4-5 or less.

  • Mr. on October 14, 2015, 5:00 GMT

    Food for thought.. Which Indian team has more chance of winning the world cup: 1). captain Kohli without MSD or 2). captain MSD without Kohli

  • thiru on October 13, 2015, 22:49 GMT

    Leave MSD alone. He is allowed to have a lean patch like "Mr".Kohli is having! What I feel sorry is that the team hardly supports their captain and his faith in them!

    MSD needs to come at 4 just to get his batting form back. He cant keep sending himself at 6, when pressure is fully on him to deliver and also improve form!

    Bailey and Clarke never performed much in ODIs when they were captains, but their team did it for the captain, no matter what!

    This is how the rest of team should lift the captain's confidence! But sadly there is a gang which is not doing that!

  • Romeo on October 13, 2015, 19:23 GMT

    If you know how to bat like an international batsman, it shouldn't matter what position you bat especially when batting during the end if the innings. Doesn't matter if Raina came in after Dhoni. Raina didn't do his job, Dhoni atleast scored decent runs.

  • Romeo on October 13, 2015, 19:20 GMT

    Why are people and Agarkar so much against Dhoni? He scored more than run a ball. BLAME Binny and Raina for getting out so fast when all they had to do was stick at the crease and score cautiously. Dhoni is NOT the problem here!

  • andrew on October 13, 2015, 12:20 GMT

    ODI - 1. Rohit 2. Agarwal 3. Kohli 4. Ojha(wk) 5.Raina 6. K.Jadhav 7. Gurkeerat 8. R.Dhawan 9. Ashwin 10. Kumar 11. Shami T20 - 1. Rohit 2. Agarwal 3. Uthappa 4. Kohli 5. Raina 6. Hooda 7. Surya Yadav or Pandya 8. Ashwin 9. Mishra 10. B.Kumar 11. Shami This should be the playing 11 for Odi & T20 in the subcontinent

  • Venkat on October 13, 2015, 11:59 GMT

    Toss will be a huge factor in the second ODI, as it is a day and night game. Bowling second on a pitch that is probably not good for seam bowling, a lot depends on the dew in the second innings. India needs a win now and hope they win the toss.

  • Venkat on October 13, 2015, 11:50 GMT

    Except 1-2 batsman, no one else is playing well. Why to blame Dhoni? out of the required 304, 210 have been scored by Rohit and Rahane. Dhoni is the 3rd highest scorer in the match. If there is anyone to be blamed, it's Virat Kohli who is capable of constructing an innings but throwing it away. Kohli's form is too bad but still people says he should be given captaincy considering his previous records. Then why do you guys don't consider Dhoni's previous records and give him more chances? I am not a supporter of Dhoni but I feel he alone should not be blamed for all these loses. The entire team is responsible for these except 1-2 players.

  • Hussain on October 13, 2015, 10:43 GMT

    Why did Dhoni bring himself to bat in front of Raina who is at present in better form in that position. Dhoni took 25 balls to take his only boundary. The rest of all the balls he faced was either dots or singles and those he took two was only due to his running ability. Nobody will agree the way Dhoni came to bat and wasted the balls to take singles and twos when the required run rate was above 10. If he had sent Raina in his position I am sure the match would have been ended in favour of India. Kohli, India's reputed batsman spoiled 18 balls to take just 11 singles when India required 118 runs from 108 balls with 8 wickets in hand. I am sure he requires some warnings and treatments for his recent out of form situation. He is not the Kohli whom we used to see earlier. There was no confidence on his face even though the RRR was only 6.56 with 8 intact wickets in hand. He was standing in the crease for 3 overs defending most of balls with no interest.

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