South Africa v India, 1st ODI, Johannesburg December 5, 2013

No point blaming schedule - Dhoni


Cullinan: Indian batsmen need to use their feet more

India captain MS Dhoni has called for his new-ball bowlers to step up after his side was thrashed by 141 runs in the first ODI in Johannesburg. The visitors were typically underprepared, having spent only two-and-a-half days in South Africa before going into the match, but Dhoni said the schedule couldn't be helped.

"It is difficult [to play without warm-up games]," Dhoni said, "but at the same time, when you know the schedule, you have to mentally prepare yourself. If you ask some of the experienced players, they will say a lot of cricket is played mentally. We had two to two-and-a-half days, which gave us time to prepare ourselves mentally for the ODI."

Dhoni said he would have loved to have spent much longer in the country before playing the first international match, but said it was not possible in the present day. "What can be done?" he asked. "You'd love to come here, practise for a few days, play a few games, but nowadays the international schedule doesn't really permit that. We play throughout the year.

"If we need to get in those extra days, you don't know where they will come from. We played West Indies, had two or three days off, and came here. You have to adapt to conditions. Let us not complain about what is not there. Of course it would be lovely to get a few practice games, but at the end of the day what is important is what is in your hand."

When asked if the captain couldn't try and ensure his team had the right schedules, Dhoni's response was curt: "You keep talking about the schedule. What schedule is there, you have to follow."

What Dhoni did want his team to do, though, is not ask the batsmen to score 300 every time. "Overall it was a bad performance," he said. "It started with the bowlers initially. This was not really a 350-plus wicket. We were supposed to bowl it up, and the wicket would have done the rest. We didn't get the kind of start that was needed. At the same time we should have backed it up with some good batting, but we weren't able to do it."

The difference lay in knowing the conditions. Dale Steyn's opening spell, during which he seemed to beat the bat with every other delivery, was in stark contrast to India's bowling performance. "That's crucial. They know the conditions better than us," Dhoni said. "They know what lengths to bowl. That is one of the reasons why I want our bowlers to step up, so that you don't give away 300 runs. That puts pressure on the batsmen because they have to go after the bowling right from the first ball, which was not easy on this wicket against bowlers like Dale Steyn. If you see how he bowled to Rohit, he didn't move away from the good areas. We will have to step up overall."

Dhoni's beef was not with the death bowling - though India conceded 100 in the last six overs - but with the new ball, when the bowlers were either too full or too short. "Death bowling - over the world bowlers are going for runs," Dhoni said. "With the extra fielder inside and the fast bowlers are not able to get reverse-swing. It is the new ball that is important. Conditions will help. Bowl in the right areas, let the batsmen play good shots. Don't give them a gift."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Somendra on December 11, 2013, 6:17 GMT

    Most of the posts here are of the opinion that Indian bowlers go for runs because they lack speed. But this is not the case. Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron have consistently bowled over 150+ in the past but went for easy runs. The faster the bowl comes the easier for a smart batsman to pick easy runs. Today's batsmen are not afraid of speed. Look at Shaun Tait & Tino Best who average around 150 but go for plenty of runs. On the other side Glen Mcgrath & Shaun Pollock who averaged around 128-129 kmph not only got wickets but were also very economical. When once asked, Mcgrath revealed the secret "Accuracy , Off stump Line and Bounce" . We need bowlers like them. Bhuvneshwar is one but he needs good support from the other end.

  • Somendra on December 11, 2013, 4:33 GMT

    Basically, the problem with India is there bowling. At the back of their mind all the Indian batsmen are aware that their bowling is grossly incapable of defending even a 350+ target against any side on foreign land. So this puts extra pressure on them apart from alien conditions and they become extra cautious or aggressive. The need of the hour is to get a good bowling coach i.e. Bruce Reid of Aus, Evan Chatfield of NZ or Aquib Javed of Pak. Choose one of them and Indian bowling problems will be gone.

  • Naresh on December 10, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    @nampally - so correct again. Without a change in attitude of captain and selectors we will go no where. Choose batsman who are tall and have good foot movement. Indians need to study the likes of AMLA, De Kock - although these guys may be having it easy due to our poor bowling. Yadav bowled fast but was bowling short,giving width and brainless. Shami was accurate at times and the best. He needs support from the other bowlers. Jadeja showed glimpes towards the end of returning back to his best - the stumping of De villiers.

  • murali on December 7, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    Indian bowlers should be selected on basis atleast 135+ as average speed no point bowling 125-135, i cant believe how vinay kumar,undhkat were selected they hardly bowl 135+ balls and no disrespect to ranji but we need to extend window for a series with good performers in ranji and mixed atleast 4 teams to play on different surfaces and with conditions to take atleast 5 bowlers in every team

  • Lokesh on December 7, 2013, 10:17 GMT

    will have to say that even in Aus test series, it was only R Ashwin who showed better technique and footwork than our mainline batsmen. I remember one of the commentator also stated that Indian batsmen who're failing should put their ego aside and ask R Ashwin what special he's doing that he stays longer on wicket than them & scoring runs and that too on his first tour and esp under immense pressure when the whole batting has collapsed. Even in 1st ODI, we all saw the elegance in his batting, his use of wrist and footwork. Sorry to say Sir Jadeja can hardly bat against international bowling attack and it's the high time Sir Raina is also sent to practice hard on short balls, if Viru and Raina both are flopping then they must go wth Viru cos he has experience and has also done decent in past in SA.

  • Dummy4 on December 7, 2013, 8:59 GMT

    Why cant India develop fast bowlers? Every other test playing country has at least one bowler who can consistently touch 140mark. I dont remember a really quicky we had since Jawagal Srinath.

  • Al on December 7, 2013, 4:27 GMT

    This is what happens when our selectors keep selecting club level bowlers like Mohit Sharma, Vinay Kumar, Unadkat, etc. We have better bowlers in Rishi Dhawan, Pankaj Singh, Ishwar Pandey, Imtiaz Ahmed, etc. but they don't get selected.

  • Dummy4 on December 7, 2013, 2:12 GMT

    India needs to bring Yadav and Zaheer Khan. Mohit Sharma is not better than a club bowler.

  • uncle bob on December 6, 2013, 20:38 GMT

    India's main problem is their bowling. Unless they improve/work/find talent and groom them. They will suffer in two ways. Not only Indian bowlers will be hammered away for 300 plus scores, they do not provide their batsmen enough practice either. Result is both suffer in their performances. India must prepare fastest and bounciest pitches at a few of their centers to provide practice to their batsmen before they embark on overseas tours. The selection of batsmen should be based on their performances on these pitches against best Indian bowling.

  • Jerry on December 6, 2013, 19:47 GMT

    might as well break records , if india cannot win , they should allow SA to get over 400 .. I think the highest is 434 ..

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