New Zealand v India, 1st ODI, Napier January 19, 2014

India determined to attack short balls


'Our death-bowling was a positive' - Dhoni

New Zealand used the short ball liberally at McLean Park. India tried to counter by pulling and hooking liberally too, but lost four of their top six batsmen. Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, was pleased his team had executed what they had planned. His counterpart MS Dhoni said India were not going to stop pulling, but needed to be more judicious while using the shot.

"One of the options is to not to play the shot but our strength has been to play the shot," Dhoni said after India lost by 24 runs. "At times we will get caught because it is a difficult shot to play. But most of our batsmen like to play it since this is our strength. Especially overseas, we need to play and master it because you cannot have bowlers bowl short to you always. With two bouncers allowed you cannot leave all; (there are) nearly 80 balls with four fast bowlers out of 50 overs. We can always pick and choose when to play and when not to play."

One of the batsmen who fell to a bouncer, not for the first time, was the No. 5 Suresh Raina, and with the new No. 4 Ajinkya Rahane falling to an outstanding catch, India's poor returns from crucial middle-order positions continued. "So far we have not got consistent runs from the No. 4 and 5 batsmen and even if you don't look at big hundreds or fifties, even then those slots are crucial.

"If the opposition has batted well, they will score 280-300. And then if you lose early wickets most of the time we are doing catching up, trying to build a partnership but then the run-rate goes up, so lower-middle order comes under pressure. Yes, we are missing consistency but if they counterattack they will come good soon in the future matches."

Despite being 129 for 4, Virat Kohli and Dhoni had taken India to a position of strength, when Mitchell McClenaghan dismissed them and also claimed Ravindra Jadeja. Dhoni said that was when the game was lost. "Three wickets - me, Jaddu and Virat - we really got out in quick succession. That was when we needed a partnership. To go a bit further we could have targeted the spinner with one of their bowlers (Adam Milne) getting injured. We had extra two overs. But sadly the batsmen thought the other way around. I think they will learn out of this. It is very important that until the game doesn't get over we really should not think it is over."

McClenaghan took 4 for 68, again showing his ability to consistently pick up wickets. "He does keep producing the results," McCullum said. "I think we bounced out four guys today which is great. That's the plan we wanted to implement and Mitch was a big part of that as well.

"He does keep producing at key times for us and I can't stress the importance of it. He is going to travel at times, but as long as he is trying to perform in the manner that we have picked him for, then we are happy and he has to ride that wave because he has the handy knack of picking up wickets at key times."

The century partnership between Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, which set the base for the hitters in the lower-middle order, also played a major part in New Zealand's success. They were able to take runs at will off India's spinners, who went for 1 for 113 in 19 overs. McCullum had spoken of New Zealand's ambition of targeting the spinners in unhelpful conditions and was glad another plan had worked.

"I thought we played the spinners well," McCullum said. "It doesn't tend to turn a great deal here in Napier, so it could obviously be a different challenge from here to Hamilton. The two guys that we had at the crease against spinners are two of our best batters against spin bowling and their ability to put together a partnership through rotating the strike and picking up the odd boundary was key in allowing us that platform we wanted."

Dhoni acknowledged the spinners would not be as effective here as they are at home, but India are unlikely to reduce their reliance on them. "Their roles will change when they play outside the subcontinent. The home team will never make pitches that turn and they will have to keep varying their pace and length.

"Also, whenever we have played with four fast bowlers, two things happen. One the captain gets banned, two we lose. So they are not good stats and I want to play in this series. So it doesn't seem like an option, but I think the spinners bowled pretty well. They didn't get wickets but they were able to build some kind of pressure which I think is also important."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ZAYAN on January 22, 2014, 5:13 GMT

    To win test matches abroad,India need good bowling attack,to take 20 wickets!,

  • Dummy4 on January 21, 2014, 15:47 GMT

    Shame on Graham Smith who didn't push for win against pathetic Indian bowling in 1st test vs SA with 18 runs required of 5 overs with 3 wickets remaining.............Look how Pak with weak batting side still pushed for win requiring 300 in 59 overs at 5.5 SR.....................Misbah proved he is far superior match winner than Dravid as selfish Dravid got into much easier situations on numerous times yet he never pushed for wins - latest example was against WI in WI in 2011. Ind could easily win that series but for Dravid who preferred to boost his avg by remaining Not Out over team victory

  • Dummy4 on January 21, 2014, 13:48 GMT

    @eilsaky It looks like you have not watched Dhoni bat..see some videos.

  • Sarvesh on January 21, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    @Harshad What makes you think dhoni is a good hooker and puller. He is just playing to his limitations. He is not a good batsman he is just a smart batsman who knows his limitations well and just plays by it.

  • Dummy4 on January 21, 2014, 7:21 GMT

    I think India needs to have Pujara in ODIs , he can probably open the way Hashim Amla does . He may not be a big hitter but can still score run a ball and provide solidity to a team full of stroke players .He is technically equipped to handle fast bowling as well and mind the next world cup is in Aus & NZ .

    I guess Dhoni does not want him in side as he is not a big hitter .Time to think captain cool, world cup not far away .

  • Dummy4 on January 21, 2014, 7:14 GMT

    New Zealand have bowled brilliantly at India's weakness against short ball . Unless the Indians don't counter attack or develop that skill for counter attack they will face more of short pitched stuff l .Case in example is Suresh Raina he keeps getting short pitch stuff because he is poor at playing .Dhawan although has been playing well but getting out while trying to pull.

    Rohit will now realise he can't bask in the glory of 200 he struck . He needs to show he has the skill to open on responsive pitches and he needs to work on pull shot.

    Dhoni it seems relies more on successful formula and chamatkar and is not willing to adjust team composition to changing conditions .If he plays 2 spinners he can't set defensive fields and hope he will get wickets . He seriously needs to dop Ishant who is a batsmen friendly bowler .He needs to get Aaron in who looked promising in few matches he played .

  • Android on January 21, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    it's better some of our Lankan fans go to rehabilitation centres get treatment for jealousy and come back just like how their " caliber " player needs a lesson on how to play a ham called cricket... now that PAK's mediocre batsmen have thrashed Lankan dismal bowlers for 300 runs in 60 overs on day 5 pitch, their frustration is even more... my advice to them is to go back to the rehabilitation centre.of Colombo, come back after you win a single teat match in either India or in aus... until them bye...

  • Android on January 21, 2014, 6:38 GMT

    @Slsling : Lankan team.caliber?? do they atleast??? yes a caliber.of not winning a test series.outside the flat tracks of Lanka since 2000. a caliber of loosing a test match conceding 300 runs in.just 60 overs against the.mediocre pak batting.... a caliber of allowing a team to chase 330+ score in.just 35 overs.... a caliber of not able to win a single test match in India and aus..... you are funny arent you....a batsmen with average.of 33 and strike rate of 70 playing 400 matches shows the caliber of Lankan team... letting mohmd hafeez ( who is as good as ashwin in batting) to score 3 a series shows Lankan caliber.... lol.. bowling no ball just to avoid batsman scoring century, wasting time waiting fir bad light to avoid losing... lol caliber is visible.... conceding 600 runs in a test match against bangla at your own back yard is caliber.... lol

  • Android on January 21, 2014, 6:27 GMT

    it's clear that he won't even think of going with four fast bowlers anywhere near...let's hope atleast one fast bowling department.... and I am guessing rahane will be replace ( which I feel bad about, he is not really got any chances to prove himself) .... we may see same bowling for entire series and even for the test series...

  • Manesh on January 21, 2014, 6:07 GMT

    @SLslinga.LOL.A team who cannot ein even at home will be no:2!! dream on! Do you remember when ur team was in no:2 in ODIs and tests? Try to be a flat track bully at least!

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