MS Dhoni wants top order to fire
Indian captain MS Dhoni has asked his top order batsmen to fire if India are to take a lead in the ODI series, which now stands at 2-2 with three matches to play. Dhoni blamed the defeat in the third ODI in Mohali on a collective failure of the top order after the bowlers did well to restrict Australia to 250 on a good batting track.
India began briskly in their chase and were in the game till the 24th over at 113 for 3, before Yuvraj Singh was run out off a direct hit by Ricky Ponting. Dhoni was the fifth wicket to fall, for 26, and his dismissal left a lot of responsibility on the lower order.
"Top order batsmen need to bat well and not rely on the lower order," Dhoni said on the eve of the fifth game in Hyderabad. "If you are playing with seven batsmen, it's better to get a big score from six of them rather than use the seventh, who we call as a backup batsman, especially when you are chasing.
"If one among the top order gets a big score it becomes easy for us as the others can rotate around him. If we have a good start we can get on to a big score so as to dictate terms and play according to your pace."
Dhoni justified Ravindra Jadeja's position at No.7 and insisted that he was in the team as a bowling allrounder. Jadeja bowled seven overs for 27 but scored only 7 as the pressure mounted in the chase.
"He's (Jadeja) filling in the space of bowling allrounder. He's bowling really well," Dhoni said. "His batting is also important. Batting at No.7 is not about getting big fifties or 70s. It's about scoring quickly. And if we are batting second and if we lose wickets every batsman is needed to score extra runs on the board."
Dhoni, however, was happy with the way his bowlers had performed. They conceded only 27 runs and took four wickets in the batting Powerplay, which Australia took in the 44th over. They also didn't allow Australia to get off to a flier in the chase of 355 in Nagpur.
"The last couple of games Harbhajan [Singh] had bowled really well," Dhoni said. "I can't complain much. The (new ball) bowlers have always gotten off to a good start.
"Ashish Nehra has been the pick. Praveen [Kumar] has also done well. Ishant Sharma had a couple of off games for him. He's done well in a couple of them. Last game, he got targeted a bit. I'm quite happy with the performance of the bowlers overall."
With the business end of the series virtually reduced to a three-match contest, Dhoni warned his team against taking their foot off the pedal.
"Now we can see it as a three-game series. Every game is important now. It's important not to have an off day. As the number of games gets reduced there's no time to recover."