New Zealand v India, 2nd ODI, Hamilton January 22, 2014

Openers should have batted for longer - Dhoni


Dhoni: Batsmen not able to convert starts

It is hard to fault an opening pair that has been so successful over the past several months but it was Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma's slow start that pulled India down in their big chase in Hamilton, MS Dhoni has said. The pair consumed 7.4 overs and added only 22 after India were set a D/L target of 297 from 42 overs. The middle order, led by Virat Kohli and Dhoni, took the game close but New Zealand won by 15 runs in the end.

"I thought once we got off to a start the openers should have carried on for a bit longer so that they could have played a few more shots, scored a few more runs and taken a bit of pressure off from the middle order," Dhoni said. "But that was not the case. It does not always go as planned. I think the middle order did quite well to reach close.

"We got off to a good start in terms of not losing wickets. But if you are supposed to score 290-odd when you are chasing and in the first ten you are 38-odd runs and two wickets down [India were 37 for 2], it becomes quite difficult for the middle order, specially on a wicket which became slightly two-paced with the drizzle. I felt as the game progressed it became more and more difficult.

"I think the batters are getting some kind of a start but we are not able to convert those starts into 50s or 75s or big partnerships. I feel it is very crucial if they are playing outside [India] that once you get off to a good start it is important you make a big partnership."

Dhawan and Rohit have been opening since the Champions Trophy last June and average 52.32 as a pair, with 1308 runs from 26 innings, including six century partnerships. Three of those stands were put together in the home series against Australia in October, but their returns have tapered off since then. They added 17, 21 and 29 against West Indies at home, 14 and 10 in South Africa, and have managed 15 and 22 so far in New Zealand. Not only has their average dropped significantly over these past seven innings, their partnership run-rate has also dipped from an overall 5.25 to 3.87.

Rohit, since his promotion from the middle order, has generally not found it easy to score quickly, barring the golden run he had in the home series against Australia. He made 3 off 23 in Napier and 20 off 34 in Hamilton following 18 off 43 in Johannesburg and 19 off 26 in Durban. While Dhawan's strike-rate is still in the early nineties, he too has had a lean run off late.

Dhoni said some of his batsmen were under pressure to play to the reputations they had built, something which could apply to Dhawan. "What some of the batters are going through is a phase where first when you come in and play a few games you just play your natural game and then all of a sudden you have a reputation to carry on and that puts a bit of pressure on them."

The captain added that it was a passing phase and said they would be better placed in playing without inhibitions and going for their strokes. "With more and more games, they will realise what their particular game is, they will back themselves to play that game and slowly, they'll change themselves and improve for better performance. They are going through a phase where they are thinking what their benchmark should be but it is important we enjoy cricket and play free-flowing cricket because most of the batsmen are free-flowing and they should play their shots, does not matter if it is the first ball or the last."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • MehulG on January 26, 2014, 20:00 GMT

    If India want to win WC15 tournament, then team need what they had in 1983. Batting options, Bowling options and technically sound or adaptable, switchable players. For AUS/NZ, we need all-rounders (bat + bowl at decent or military pace at line, length). 2 openers, 2 standard Bat, 2 bat (P/T bowler), Four all-rounders ( 1+3 or 2+2 - spin/fast) and 1 opening and Death Fast bowler. Based on this - I see this team.... Openers: Dhawan, Pujara, JivanJyot singh, U.Chand, Gambhir etc. 2 standard Bat: Kohli, MSD 2 Bat + P/T bowler -or- WC to let Dhoni bowl: Raina, Yuvraj, Rohit, Rayudu, Karthik, L Rahul, C Gautam, etc. Spin all-rounders: B. Aparajit, Ashwin, Jadeja, P. Rasool, etc. Fast blowing All-rounders: S Binny, B Kumar, I Pathan, R Dhawan, S Yadav, A Nayar etc. One Opening + Death Fast bowler: Shami, Sandeep Sharma, Unadkat, Aaron, Yadav, Vinay etc. I dont think team need 150+ bowler. Team need bat till No.10, and most can bowl. This will be best team for competition.

  • Monu on January 24, 2014, 13:15 GMT

    Watch Dhawan for this series. if he doesnt do well, Dhoni: Plz bring back Gambhir and see the difference. He has better skills and techniques than Dhawan and for sure prove more worthy outside India.

  • Prathik on January 24, 2014, 6:58 GMT

    I think Chateshwar with an Avg of 50+ in domestic odi deserves to be in the team. We should open with Pujara & let Rohit play lower down in place of Yuvraj as Rohit has similar T20 stats to Yuvraj which shows he is a good finisher & hence coming at the top makes no sense. Murali Vijay is average at best & should be replaced with 'KEDAR JADHAV' - who averages 50+ & Sr of 110 (in domestic). Raina needs to perform or go home. Ishant & Ashwin need to be replaced due to consistently inconsistent performance. Ishant can be replaced with Aaron / Yadav / Sandeep Sharma. Ashwin can be replaced by Amit Mishra / Ali Murtaza / Harmeet Singh / Vishal Bhatia / Iresh Saxena / Rahul Sharma / Iqbal Abdullah & last but not the least Pravin Tambe. India has talent !!! Right opportunities need to be given to the right people. MSD needs to be a ruthless captain & remove non performing players , only then will INDIA be No 1 in all formats.

  • Android on January 24, 2014, 6:01 GMT

    its nice to see dhawan fail. Arrogance was getting the better of this south paw. Making fun of watson and over the board celebrations after getting hundreds on flat Indian pitches were just the storm before the lull. I won't be surprised if gets dropped after the New Zealand series. But we never know. Our beloved captain Dhoni is a slow learner and might keep giving him opportunity after opportunity like ishant. Rohits place is in the middle order or out of the Indian team.

  • Dummy4 on January 24, 2014, 3:59 GMT

    Whatever Dhoni said doesn't convince at all. If Rohit/Dhawan/Raina are not in form/unable to play short balls in overseas, how can they give u better start in batting, this is ridiculous thinking. Also, he's still trying to backup Ashwin/Jadeja/Ishant. If you want to give them more chances incl Rohit/Dhawan/Raina, let them play with WI, ZIM, PAK, SL, BAN pitches & prove themselves. Don't give chances on gud teams/overseas pitches like AUS, SA, NZ, ENG which doesn't give any value to India & even u as Captain. Only luck is surrounding you for last few years. Now ur captaincy will be in trouble for sure. Give chances to Ohja, Binny, Rayudu, Mishra, Aaron, Yadav, Jaffer(tests).

  • Simon on January 24, 2014, 2:47 GMT

    Only Dhoni and Kholi would get selected for the New Zealand side. With no decent spinners on the horizon for India, their perpetual lack of fast bowlers will surely see them become the laughing stock of world cricket within the next 12-18 months.

  • Dummy4 on January 24, 2014, 2:07 GMT

    Rohit sharma is not in form and his eye speaks often. He is not performing outside india. Selectors should wake up after seeing his perforamce. Ishant sharma also not in good form at all. Just running and bowling wont sever the issue. Ashwin should be dropped.

  • ESPN on January 24, 2014, 2:03 GMT

    Rohit,dhawan,ishant and raina has not delivered inspite of many chances they've got. It's better to move on and bring in some fresh faces.. Though we may loose the series we will get to know our bench strength. It's just useless wasting time for these players over and over again they have got many chances in England, aus, sa and now New Zealand.. We can give chances to players like rasool, ishwar pandey, aaron, umesh, rayudu and pujara.. Lets try out some fresh faces for serious cricket. We can't see these old players failing over and over again! It's better to loose a series trying out with fresh faces rather than giving chances to these old players to re-discover their form. As a honest Indian cricket fan I request bcci, team management, selectors and Indian captain dhoni..

  • Ashok on January 24, 2014, 1:56 GMT

    M.S.Dhoni- please change your attention from various New excuses to the real Cause for the Indian defeats in both the ODI's. Simple answer is Corey Anderson. First he destroyed the Indian bowling with S/R of over 200 in scoring 68* & 48 & followed this severe mauling with 3 wkt. tally with his seamers. Remove Anderson's contribution & reanalyse the result- India wins both the ODI's, Admittedly Indian openers played badly & were very slow. But in the final analysis if Anderson was dismissed early for <10, India would have won. Focus on Anderson & Rochi- contain them or get them out. Various ways: 1. Attack outside off stump with packed off side field + 2 deep leg side fielders.2. Bowl perfect Yorkers 3. Rising balls outside the off stump or Just attack the off stump with awkward length. Real pace of Aaron or Yadev or Shami will be needed. Also Ross Taylor was very shaky but somehow scored. Get him out early. India needs new strategies NOT excuses. Justify your $ Million Pay!

  • ESPN on January 23, 2014, 21:47 GMT

    Huge dhoni fan but somehow im disappointed with his consistently wrong team selection. Pacers like umesh yadav, varun aaron should be given more games. 2 spinners doesnt make sense specially with ashwin failin consistenly. Ishant Sharma doesnt deserve any more chances, B. Kumar is a genuine swing bowler and is helpless without swing. No matter rohit sharma had a great 2013 but d guy aint fit for foreign soil wid his laid back stance, slow starts r causing india crucial games now. Gambhir is the man for d job, he cant bat at no. 4 as well in place of inconsistent rahane!

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