Alastair Cook, England's captain, described MS Dhoni as one of the hardest players in the world to bowl to at the death after his counterattacking 72 from 66 balls late in India's innings provided the platform for their 127-run victory in the second ODI. Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja added 96 in ten overs for the sixth wicket, taking apart England's inexperienced attack during the closing stages of the innings, and Cook said that coming up with a field and a bowling plan for his India counterpart was extremely tough.
"He [Dhoni] is probably the best player in the world in those situations, in these conditions," Cook said. "He does it time and time again. He's incredibly hard to bowl at and with that extra man in the circle, it's very, very hard to stop on these flat wickets."
Although James Tredwell conceded just nine runs combined from the 42nd and 44th overs, Cook opted for his pace trio of Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach and Chris Woakes at the death but they failed to keep a lid on India's scoring rate.
"You're always going to have hindsight, but probably one batsman you don't want an offspinner bowling to is Dhoni," Cook said. "We've seen him a number of times and with a spinner at the end, it's very hard to bowl to him. So, look, clearly when you get hit for 68 runs in the last five overs, you think, maybe you could have done things differently. But at the time, for me, it was a very big gamble to make."
The win drew India level at 1-1 in the five-match series but, despite the emphatic result, the top order again struggled, falling to 119 for 4 just past the midway stage of the innings before Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Jadeja rebuilt. The bowlers bounced back from conceding 325 in Rajkot to dismiss England for 158 but Dhoni said problems remained in both departments and they could not hope for the dominance of recent ODI series between the two sides in India.
"We're going through a stage when we don't have the same firepower when it comes to the bowling department. Our batting department is not able to convert those starts into a big innings. But we're fielding really well, and that's a big positive for us," he said.
Dhoni described the failure of the batsmen to go on when well set as a "big problem". He said: "If three or four batsmen make 50, then it's important at least one or two of them go on to make at least 75. So that the new batsmen coming after them, when say two quick wickets fall, then they won't feel that much pressure. I think it's very important. If you look at the good side, our batsmen are getting starts. Yes, I would like them to convert their starts to a big innings so that it won't put pressure on the rest."