India's batsmen's lack of positivity cost them the Kolkata ODI against Pakistan, former India captain Sourav Ganguly believes. Also MS Dhoni's approach with the bat in the match - which India lost by a whopping 85 runs, and with it the series - wasn't right, Ganguly said in a newspaper column.
"The Pakistan spinners were exemplary, but what surprised me was the lack of intent to attack on part of the Indian batting," Ganguly wrote. "They should have played more positively. They came with the mindset that 250 is not a big score, so bat 50 overs and win.
"Though the Pakistan bowlers bowled better in this game than they have done [at any other time] in the series, it is important to play every ball on merit and the Indians just went into their shell. They looked like a batting unit short on confidence."
Pakistan had appeared set for a huge total in the match, after a 141-run opening stand, but India's bowlers managed to limit them to 250. Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag made an edgy start but managed to survive, going at about four an over in the first 10. However, just like the previous game, a wicket opened the floodgates and the team was reduced to 95 for 5 in 26 overs.
And, unlike in the first ODI, in Chennai, Dhoni was unable to script a batting recovery. While he remained unbeaten on 54, his runs came at a strike rate of 60.67 and he ran out of partners as India were bowled out with two overs to spare.
It's time, Ganguly said, Dhoni moved up the order. "Dhoni continued to bat lower down; he was the man in form and in such situations [with the team struggling] it's important that the man in form or the captain stands up. He played superbly in Chennai and I still don't understand the reason why he has to bat at 29 for 5 or 70 for 4, rather than going in at 40 for 1. It really baffles me, somebody so gifted under-using his talent."
The final stand between Dhoni and Ishant Sharma lasted eight overs and the captain farmed the strike, but he did not look like launching a last-ditch, final assault at any stage. He blocked out deliveries and seemed to be coaxing Ishant to play with the utmost care. That was not what was required at that point, Ganguly said: "His approach with Ishant for company wasn't right. He should have taken on the Pakistan bowling, as it didn't [make a difference] if India lost in 40th over."