'We failed as a batting unit' - MS Dhoni
India's powerful batting line-up has often had to compensate for errant bowling and slack fielding in the past but the tables were turned in Mohali. MS Dhoni praised his bowlers for restricting Australia to 250; he said the fielding effort was India's best in the last one-and-a-half years; but he criticised the batsmen for a lack of partnerships which ultimately led to a 24-run defeat in the fourth ODI.
"It was a good effort by the bowlers to restrict them to a total like 250," Dhoni said. "We got a decent start to our chase also. But subsequently, we failed as a batting unit. We should have batted the full 50 overs but that was not possible because we kept losing wickets at regular intervals."
Dhoni defended his decision to field, saying the dew factor would have made it difficult for the bowlers to grip the ball under lights. "Dew is a big factor that always plays on your mind. From overs 15-40, generally the spinners do the job for us. That would have been taking a risk. Of course, it can backfire as well, so it's difficult to choose. But we knew in Mohali, the wicket would not break much and ball would come nicely onto the bat with a bit of dew. I think our bowlers did a great job and 251 is something we should have scored."
India's chase had a terrific start with Virender Sehwag caning Mitchell Johnson for 30 runs off 14 balls. Australia began to fight back after Sehwag fell but India were on course while Sachin Tendulkar was batting. However, his dismissal for 40 - the highest score of the innings - was the beginning of the end as wickets fell frequently thereafter.
"We badly needed some partnerships going," Dhoni said. "We got the start but we could not take advantage of that. If at least one batsman got going, it would have made things easy."
Dhoni also said the younger batsmen like Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli would need to learn how to overhaul a difficult target. "Raina today got out to a beautiful delivery, while Jadeja was run out after a mix-up," Dhoni said. "Batting at No. 6 or 7 is not easy, since you don't get much opportunity to bat. You cannot pace your innings either, for you have to play according to the platform given to you. Sometimes, you have to accelerate or keep a partnership going. They are still inexperienced and I hope they learn from their mistakes."
On the decision to send Kohli at No. 3, Dhoni said: "The best way to give someone an opportunity is to let him bat higher. At No. 6 or 7, you score 20-30 in quick time or can get out for 10-12 also. I think it's important to give them a chance. Virat is a talented batsman, good on the field and brings in lot of energy."
India's defeat in Mohali prevented them from taking Australia's No. 1 ranking in ODIs and the gap between the teams is now three points. The next match is in Hyderabad on November 5.