Australia v India, Super Eights, Group F, Barbados May 7, 2010

Pulling isn't our natural strength - Dhoni

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MS Dhoni has defended his top order after they once again fell apart in the face of a hostile short-pitched attack. The pace of Dirk Nannes, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson proved too much for India as they slumped to 50 for 7 in their pursuit of a daunting 185, and it was a familiar mode of dismissal that brought their downfall.

Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina, the latter coming off the back of his hundred against South Africa, were unsettled by the short ball and fell to limp pulls. It was only Rohit Sharma, who hit out towards the end, that looked comfortable against the sustained pace that Australia were able to throw at them.

If India have realistic ambitions of winning this tournament they are going to have to sharpen up their reflexes, for after this performance they will have plenty more deliveries heading for the ribcage with another Super Eight match and the final to be held in Barbados. The hole left by Virender Sehwag's absence has not been adequately filled.

"You try to fight fire with fire and it doesn't always work and this was an example of that," Dhoni said. "If somebody bowls 150kph short stuff then you have to be really good at pulling which isn't our natural strength. Most players from India are very good at cutting the ball, but only a few are good pullers against the new ball.

"Maybe we could have played through the first few overs because we saw as the ball got a bit older it didn't come on as quickly," he added. "But you have to go for runs and it's easy after the game to say this is what should have been done. When you are chasing 180-odd runs the first five or six overs are very important otherwise the rate goes above 10 an over."

Dhoni, and each India captain before him, has had to answer questions on his side's ability to face short-pitched bowling but the concern will be that this wasn't a lightning fast surface, just one that offered encouragement to a well-directed attack. At last year's World Twenty20 in England, India succumbed in similar fashion with Super Eight defeats against West Indies and the hosts when they were bombed out on a lively Lord's surface.

"It's the same stuff that Indians have been facing for the last 10, 15, 20 years and some of the best [batsmen] in the world have come from India so there's no reason why they can't do it," Dhoni said. "During the first T20 World Cup we played in Durban on one of the fastest tracks you'll see and we beat England, South Africa and Australia."

However, Dhoni felt that it was the right approach for the batsmen to go for their shots from the start, despite having watched Shane Watson and David Warner assess conditions before opening up during their 104-run stand.

"It was a big score but it is a fast-scoring ground so I didn't think we were under too much pressure because of that," he said. "We needed a good start and you have to keep on going but a few shots when straight to the fielder. The aggressive approach has worked for us in the past but you just have to be a bit careful."

India now play two more Super Eights matches and the first of them is back at the Kensington Oval against West Indies. If the hosts were watching this performance, they are likely to be winding up Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ganymide on May 9, 2010, 21:01 GMT

    what's the problem with my comments, why you've n't yet published? could you answer to my question please?

  • Craig_Adel on May 9, 2010, 7:28 GMT

    And yes, Qazar, you dare not speak the name of the ultimate liar and cheat, do you?

  • shayad on May 8, 2010, 21:14 GMT

    C Gayle S Chanderpaul R Sarwan D Bravo A Flecther D Sammy K Pollard S Benn J Taylor K Roach R Rampaul

  • Rasp1 on May 8, 2010, 19:14 GMT

    To Sohail Anwer with his comment "why dont you acknowledge that Pak is the best T20 team in the world and the reigning champions..". Sorry, but they have lost two out of two in Super 8 and out of the tournament now:))

  • dummy4fb on May 8, 2010, 18:34 GMT

    As I have said in Viru's Facebook blog...With out Virender Sehwag, indian team is looking at Mirage!!! (for winning Championship); He is a fearless competitor just like Derk Jeter, Micheal Jordan, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Sachin Tendulkar, Sunny Gavaskar, Ian Botham, Imaran khan, Wasim Akram, Paul GasCoigne...all in one! I bet you Aussies would have been smashed out of sight as they were in test...by Viru. It is sad we dont have Viru, Sachhin, Irfan Pathan, and I would say Kpil Dev could play T20s. Its 1 hr in the park thing!

  • Mark00 on May 8, 2010, 18:28 GMT

    Nice to see that Dhoni is reinforcing what I've been saying all along ... that all the 50+ average batsmen we're seeing today have benefited tremendously from bouncer restrictions.

    The bouncer restrictions need to be removed. It's destroyed fast bowling and, with it, cricket as a truly thrilling spectacle. Now, even batsmen who lack foot work can average over 50 quite easily.

    There's also nothing like the spectacle of a real fast bowler aiming for the jugular in any other sport. It's a kind of controlled gladiatorial combat that separated cricket as a game that tested courage and determination. Now, particularly test cricket, is all about waiting for the loose ball. Gee. how fun.

  • aravabalaji on May 8, 2010, 17:52 GMT

    It is really bemusing that people are crying for Robin Uthappa, Virat Kohli, etc. Are they talking about the next world cup? Guys, its not IPL & let's accept the reality that you have to select your team only from the 15! And what if Robin & Kohli fail in their first match? In the match against Aussies, its a collective failure coupled with tactical errors from the captain. When Jadeja got the stick, why not try Raina's slow skidders and one or two overs from Rohit? It is unfortunate to single out Jadeja as the guy had one poor match not to forget his utility in the matches before. Dinesh Karthik's utility can be tried either as a opener (as he has better footwork) or as a middle order bat (as he is a wily finisher). Let's have reality check. It is not over yet & India has the capability to bounce back. Its that the players have to back themselves up. Good Luck!

  • jamespeterv on May 8, 2010, 17:51 GMT

    @PhilipCOORG. Please note.. Dinesh Karthik is also a WK. So Dhoni mostly not allowed DK to play for India.

  • Htc-Baseball on May 8, 2010, 17:29 GMT

    Alwys had the thought tat uvi s a far better and intlegent bowler than jadeja,mahi s not utilising the resorces available properly.uvi and rohit can surely bowl well contain and pick wickets..keeping jadeja as a bowling allrounder is a worst thing tat cud happen to us.karthick must get a place in eleven.As far as usaf is concerned currently no replacements so need to stick to him..........best way to use usaf is by making him to open wit gambir...usaf,gamb,raina,rohit,karthick,dhoni,uvi,baji,zak,nehra,umesh. Must use uvi at the death overs and make rohit to play 2 down..

  • mafyal on May 8, 2010, 16:50 GMT

    drop vijy,jadeja & yuvraj.get in uthappa kohli & an extra pacer. most probably rp singh. and even p.ojha should be bought after all he is the purple cap golder in the ipl.and finally give dhoni a nice scolding such that he never ever feilds again on such a hard track.

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