South Africa v India, 1st Test, Centurion, 5th day December 20, 2010

MS Dhoni worried by inept bowling


MS Dhoni has come down hard on his bowlers after India started yet another tour with a demoralising defeat. "One of the things was we still couldn't get them all out," Dhoni said. "Although we all said the wicket was different to first day, but you have bowled on flatter tracks and you're still expected to get the sides out, so that's an area of concern because to win a Test you have to get 20 wickets."

It was not just the failure to bowl South Africa out that ought to concern India. They conceded 225 runs in one session on the third day, which hastened the declaration from South Africa. The extra time South Africa gained proved to be a big factor in India's fight for a draw. "You're supposed to either take wickets or not let the opposition score at five runs an over in a Test match," Dhoni said. "The conditions are difficult out here, it's not like in India where it's turning and the ball doesn't come on. So you can tie the batsmen down and not let them score at a brisk pace. But over here scoring is quite easy, in the sense once you're set, the ball comes on nicely and you can score on both sides of the wicket. So that's also an area of concern. Even our scoring-rate, despite us losing wickets, was quite good. So that means, the only way out is to take wickets.

"It was difficult because there was not much help from the wicket. Our bowlers are not express quick. They don't generally bowl over 140-plus. They have to be very precise with their line and length. We tried different fields. We tried to work around their bowling aspects, which, more often than not, will work with a set batsman. We tried to contain them but it was not successful for a period of time."

Dhoni was also worried about the over-rates, which could potentially earn him a one-match suspension. "Another area of worry is the over-rate because we were five-and-a-half overs down at one stage," he said. "That's a lot. That's a big worry. We need to step that up. We need to bowl our quota in the time allotted."

Dhoni is looking forward to Zaheer's return, not just for what he does with the ball, but how he leads the attack. "It's not just that when Zaheer plays he always gets wickets," he said when asked if the attack was not even half as effective in Zaheer's absence. "But what is good with him is the amount of experience he has got, the way he comes up with new plans and changes his plans during the course of the game. What we need to see is if he can be there in the next Test, whether we can make something happen on the field."

Dhoni seemed resigned to India's tendency to start Test series poorly. "That's one quality we have," he said. "It's not only in India. Most of the Test series, the first Test has often gone bad, but after that we have come back really well. Again we are back to a start that we are quite used to now, hopefully we will cope with that in the coming two games."

That said, he had a few positives to draw on. "Apart from the first day I think we batted really well," he said. "In the second innings, if you have to achieve 400 or 400-plus score you are under pressure. It may be a flat track, but handling that pressure is very difficult. That [India handled it] is definitely a big positive."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kairavan on December 23, 2010, 22:56 GMT

    Raina has to sit out for the remainder of the series. He is just not test quality material and his recent performances against mediocre NZ medium pace bowling on flat indian tracks gives enough evidence that his test playing days are over. He averaged just 6.5 in that 3 match test series and now failed for the 4 consecutive time in tests with his inept performance in the 1st test against SA. What's adding salt to injury was the fact that his got out cheaply to the gentle medium pace of Kallis in both the innings of the test, having faced only 2 balls from the two premier SA fast bowlers. One can only imagine what his fate would have been had he got to face more of Steyn and Morkel, on this tracks.

  • Dummy4 on December 23, 2010, 2:39 GMT

    As long as the Indians play for personal glory and records we will never be world classs as a team. Learn from the Aussies who were all but dead in the Ashes series,now have England against the wall.

    It is time to let younsters have a chance.I am tired of banking on sporadic performers like Raina,jadeja and the arrogant Yuvraj.

  • r- on December 23, 2010, 0:40 GMT

    PS- news has been that Umesh Yadav managed to tonk Tendulkar on the helmet in pratice when the SA pacers were unable to. That in itself is worth to take a punt on him in the next test, apart from indias general dire situation in pace bowling, Durban is going to be another fast bouncy pitch

  • r- on December 23, 2010, 0:21 GMT

    Shaun Pollock already gave a hint that unless you have superior pace, you wont get the best out of SA wickets. This is why Yadav who can bowl in the 140 kphs should have been picked, he may be raw but its the best place for him to start learning. Also its already been suggessted Rainas technique is not ready for test cricket on such a tough tour. Vijay too hasnt impressed when faced with top quality fast bowling. Pujara although also new to the game looked the most technically sound and suitable to tst cricket out of the 3. Hope to see Rahane too given a chance at some stage.

  • Sikandar on December 22, 2010, 20:52 GMT

    some of our cricketers went in advance to get acclimatized to SA conditions BUT what is the RESULT? I know people criticized me for my statements on Sachin..yes, no doubt! he is a class act, but except HIM no one cared to stay at the crease..Dhoni played like as if we are never going to DRAW anyways, so let me smack it wherever! Have we ever thought, if Sachin wouldn't have played this game, what would have been the scenario!! not even Laxman nor Dravid stepped up the plate!!! that hurts more than anything as an avid cricket watcher!!! We never Cared for BARDI's talent [of all the people DHONI should know better about BARDI], RP was not there...Ashish was not considered....and MITHUN..i bet he has MORE TALENT than Sree, Ishant ..remember there was a time, Jagval or Venkatesh said that the best pair /iswas ZAK and ISHANT..well, what did Ishant do....ZAK is NO STEYN!! "if our cricketers have an IOTA OF SELF-RESPECT and WANT TO STAY #1, then they have to work harder than ever before!!

  • Jake on December 22, 2010, 20:40 GMT

    The selectors has to do a better job. Taking a 19 year old bowler to bowl against South Africa batsmen in SA is a big mistake. They need to take experience players such as Munaf Patel who bowls more accurately. India does not have express bowlers so they should go with accuracy. Also, Yuvi should have been on that tour. He was dropped from the team which was a good thing but with his talent you dont want to keep him out too long. He is more capable to handle the fast bowling better than Raina.

  • Nathan on December 22, 2010, 18:04 GMT

    There was a BIG mistake made in the selection of pace bowlers ... Ashish Nehra should have been included in the group, as his exploits with swinging deliveries could have made an impact in the absence of Zaheer Khan Ashish ability to use the swinging conditions is well know and being a lefty and having bowled well in SA conditions that could have been a plus As of today India pace bowling lacks a leadership if Zaheer is not around... Ishant, Sreesanth and others have miles to go to carry that expectation ... Even with the bounce that was available Harbhajan came short .... No wonder it is difficult to fill in the shoes of Anil Kumble ....

    There is no meaning in crying over spilled milk ...

  • Sikandar on December 22, 2010, 17:45 GMT

    Venkatatesan..excellent input. in addition, there is a huge difference between previous #1 [Aus]and the present so-called #1 [we indians] - CUTTHROAT versus COMPLACENCY....Australia meant business when they were on the field but we, tend to knew that yeah, first TEST is always a warm-up for us then we will show the opponents what we are [it is NOT going to work all the time]!! This is the attitude of present captain and in the past the same as well! WE INDIANS LACK ACCOUNTABILITY, simple as that..and as of now, SA is the best! If we are FLAT TRACK BULLIES, then how come our so-called batting failed??? DO you think Afghanistan would have done that? The way they are fighting, one day they can give us run for the money!! Forget about GlennMcGrath et all, we DO NOT EVEN HAVE the pace caliber of MURTAZA [bangla], RANKIN [ireland]..need I say more!!,

  • Dummy4 on December 22, 2010, 17:30 GMT

    What happened to Abhimanyu Mithun, why Dhoni & the selectors have not given him a chance here in South Africa?!? Why bowlers like Ashis Nehra & Munaf who're better partners for Zaheer do not et a chance into the test side? Looks like only the people like Rainas & Jadejas who're liked by MSD would get a chance!

  • Priyashrav on December 22, 2010, 17:24 GMT

    The innings loss showed that India may be No.1 in rankings,but they are not as strong(or fierce) as the previous champions Australia and West Indies,as they claim to be.

    Australia whitewashed Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka by 3-0,whitewashed South Africa in South Africa by 3-0,defeated West Indies in West Indies by 3-1,defeated India in India by 2-1,defeated New Zealand in New Zealand by 2-0,whitewashed Pakistan in Sri Lanka/UAE by 3-0.

    India will have to perform well at home as well as away to deserve the coveted No.1 rankings and filling Windies' or Aussies' shoes!Let's see if India is up to the challenge.

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