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December 17, 2009
Dhoni defends flat tracks
The Indian batting machine is in prime form, but the shoddy fielding has captain MS Dhoni worried. Three chances were grassed by India during Sri Lanka's spirited pursuit of 415 in the first ODI in Rajkot. That added to some appalling fielding in the two Twenty20s took the dropped catches' tally to 12, over 90 overs of limited-overs cricket in one week. And then there were the missed run-outs.
"We were fielding well in patches and not dropping catches at the international level," Dhoni said in Nagpur ahead of Friday's second ODI. "You may drop the odd difficult catch but straightforward chances need to be taken. In the last three-four games we have dropped a lot of regulation catches. Of course it bothers me.
"At the same time it will be solved at some point because of the effort that we are putting in. We are hoping we don't drop catches in this game."
India did hold their nerve in the field towards the end of the Rajkot game, when Sri Lanka needed only 15 runs in the final two overs. Two run-outs in the penultimate over and a Sachin Tendulkar catch off the third-last delivery helped India edge home by three runs.
The bowling from Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra at the death, another facet where India haven't excelled, came in for praise from Dhoni. "It was one of the best in the past year. I have always said we had not been very consistent with the death bowling," he said. "In the last game, in the last five overs we gave away only 27 runs. It was a very good effort.
"Ashish bowled five overs in a row. There was a bit of reverse-swing going, which actually helped us a bit."
Dhoni said that on superb batting tracks like in Rajkot, the key is to stop singles. "Normally you don't get wickets like that. It was not a big ground with the straight boundary not more than 60-65 yards. Since the wicket was so nice, it was easy for the batsmen to clear the field. It's important not to give easy singles."
Looking ahead to the second one-dayer in Nagpur, Dhoni said he expected another run-fest. India racked up 354 when they played Australia in an ODI last month, and 401 runs were scored in the Twenty20 against Sri Lanka last week. "In the last T20 game here there was good bounce. The wicket for the match looks like good and flat. I had a conversation with the curator."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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