New Zealand v India, 2nd ODI, Hamilton January 23, 2014

India bowlers need to curb mistakes under pressure

In the last two ODIs, India's bowlers have shown a tendency to concede ground in a short burst. While New Zealand's bowlers have extracted help from the pitches, India have struggled and their only hope of saving the series is to avoid mistakes

Worked a lot on bowling yorkers - Bhuvneshwar

India have already lost the No 1 ODI ranking following two defeats in Napier and Hamilton. One more defeat in Auckland will see them lose the series as well. The games at Napier and Hamilton must have felt almost like playing at home, seeing the bowlers go for so many. However, the batsmen, despite coming close, have been unable to mop up for the bowlers and that has been the crucial difference compared to playing in India.

New Zealand's one-day pitches may have flattened out over the past decade but they are still nowhere close to the roads that Indian bowlers are used to back home. There is little the team can do if the bowlers are slammed for 320 in Rajkot, apart from hoping that the batsmen do not have a rare off day. But New Zealand have shown that there was something in Napier and Hamilton for bowlers who were prepared to and knew how to squeeze out that help from the pitches. Napier had bounce and pace, Hamilton was a touch two-paced.

India, though, went through periods where they conceded too much ground in a short burst. It was not as if they were poor throughout, but their attack has this tendency to suddenly lose it in unison, especially if a batsman starts going berserk. The new fielding restrictions have only exacerbated that tendency. Corey Anderson has gone after them in both games, and although India, by their standards, have done admirably to come back at the death, the damage he inflicted proved too costly.

MS Dhoni knows his bowlers better than anybody else and has maintained right through that only four deep fielders are too little protection for their profligacy. But it has been over a year now since the new rules came in and the attack has to show signs of adapting, for there is no choice. And those signs have to translate into something concrete, especially outside India where everything cannot be blamed on dead pitches. If they don't, in another year, Dhoni will be left with the same woes in the 2015 World Cup.

Dhoni does feel that his bowlers have achieved some progress, particularly at the death. "To some extent, yes," Dhoni said after the Hamilton match. "To compare it to what was happening maybe six months back. Our death bowling seems to have improved a lot. What you are seeing close to 300 runs, you may see it as slightly expensive, but if we do not bowl as well as we are bowling in the last few overs, it may go in excess of 340. That puts some serious pressure on the batsmen. We have seen improvement."

The captain thinks a lot more can be done, and pointed out a couple of things which may appear quite basic, but are seemingly beyond the reach of Dhoni's bowlers at the moment.

"There is still scope for improvement. If we cannot give easy boundaries, off something like a wide ball or something on the pads that goes through short fine for a boundary," Dhoni said. "Stuff like that really adds on. Especially the first ball of the over or the sixth ball of the over, if you don't concede boundaries in those two, it really helps. That is one area where we are conceding quite a few runs - the first ball or the last ball of the over. Either we are not starting well or we are not finishing that particular over well."

Of the 61 boundaries India went for in Napier and Hamilton, 20 came off the first and last deliveries of overs. That is not an alarmingly high proportion, but you can see the point Dhoni is trying to make.

His attack may probably not have the skills to extract as much out of New Zealand pitches as the home bowlers have. But if they can at least avoid the above mistakes under pressure, India might yet be able to salvage this series.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harmon on January 24, 2014, 20:48 GMT

    @Shailendra Singh:

    MSD's point was that if you start or end an over with a 4 then the batsman gains the upper hand. The boundaries that come off the 2/3/4/5 balls, their genesis lies to some extent in the 4 hit the batsman might have hit of the 1st ball of the over. Thus, you now have a situation where the batsman is not only having 1 boundary, he is now getting 2 boundaries. That is 8 runs. That is a lot of runs. Those runs could have been halved or even less. So my dear Einstein, this was MSD's point. He said it in so few words but since you did not get it I had to explain it in so many words. Hope you got it.

  • Dummy4 on January 24, 2014, 18:17 GMT

    The problem to me seems to be the utter lack of confidence of Dhoni on his bowlers. Whenever he is talking about bowling he is always defensive. He has said in so many ways that his bowlers are not as good as the opposite bowlers. Even if that is the case, he does not have to repeat this in every press conference. What sort of confidence does this give to a bowler if his captain says things like this. Dhoni needs to be more attacking and think in terms of taking wickets. Wickets is the sure way to reduce run rate, and instead of trying to avoid being hit for boundaries he needs to back his bowlers to take wickets. I think that is where India is lacking.

  • Dummy4 on January 24, 2014, 18:06 GMT

    "Of the 61 boundaries India went for in Napier and Hamilton, 20 came off the first and last deliveries of overs. That is not an alarmingly high proportion, but you can see the point Dhoni is trying to make."

    There are 6 balls in an over. If 20 of 61 boundaries came off first and last deliveries, then 41 boundaries came off 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th deliveries. So on an average... - Off 1st delivery: 10 boundaries - Off 2nd delivery: 10.25 boundaries - Off 3rd delivery: 10.25 boundaries - Off 4th delivery: 10.25 boundaries - Off 5th delivery: 10.25 boundaries - Off last delivery: 10 boundaries

    So what exactly what point was Dhoni trying to make?

  • Al on January 24, 2014, 16:51 GMT

    Agree with @Alexk400 - We Indians are compassionate people. 1 billion people 1 billion excuses. Seriously, with amount of population and amount of money available to BCCI , India can field 3 different teams for T20, ODI and Tests, and still be 1st or 2nd in each category. But we are ok to live in mediocrity just so others can be happy beating us. That's why players like Ashwin, Ishant, Rohit, Jadeja, etc. can never be dropped. Because BCCI wants other teams to win too.

    They keep picking same useless players and if some one questions they will say this is all we got in Ranji teams. Well if you do not allow poor people with better bone structure to play and give scholarship, nothing will happen. TPTB only pick up relatives of administrators forever unless someone put foot down.

  • Dummy4 on January 24, 2014, 16:45 GMT

    Except for DL India won this match scoring 277 in 41.3 overs compared to 270 of NZ in 42 overs.

  • Jagan on January 24, 2014, 16:38 GMT

    @Jordanmacmillan88 ...last time I checked the results ...your world class players sucked on batsmen friendly pitches and lost 5-0.. also lost to Bangladesh.... Stop writing bushik!!!!!

  • ubaid on January 24, 2014, 16:35 GMT

    Dhoni strategies 1. Blame the pitch 2. Blame the rules 3. Blame the rain 4. Blame the due

  • saravanan on January 24, 2014, 16:31 GMT

    @shanebond...the truth is there are many good bowlers in india who can bowl like pakistani pacemen.But the politics and favouritism in cricket high level management is killing cricket here.Hopefully one day cricket administrators in india will become good like NZ management and select good players..

  • Dummy4 on January 24, 2014, 15:33 GMT

    Still believe dhawan will come hard on kiwis. Jadeja need a lot of improvement in his batting. Irfan pathan will be better than binny in WC 2015.

  • Dummy4 on January 24, 2014, 15:17 GMT

    D/L works well in most cases. In this case, rain came during an innings, and as NZ had not lost wickets they were always going to have their final score raised because of this. That is why they went on a run scoring blitz when they came back on, they knew they would get a bonus. If the rain had come before the innings started, or even earlier in the innings, then the D/L target score would have been lower. The same applies but different calculations if the rain comes in the second innings or between innings.

    The issue here is that the Indian players would have known that as well and should have expected the NZ batters to go after them, they simply didn't bowl to the situation.

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