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Shouldn't have taken game to 50th over - Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir, who scored 92 runs in India's tight win against Australia, has said the match should never have got as close as it did

Gautam Gambhir, who scored 92 runs in India's tight win against Australia, has said the match should never have got as close as it did. India needed 12 off the last four balls and Gambhir's captain, MS Dhoni, hit a massive six under pressure to help India cross the line. Gambhir had fallen at 4 for 178 in the 35th over, leaving India 92 to get in 15.5 overs. Dhoni started slowly, scoring 2 off the first 16 balls he faced, but as wickets fell around him, he stayed calm and delivered the six when it was needed.
"We should have finished this game in the 48th over," Gambhir said. "We shouldn't have taken the game to the 50th over, that's my personal observation. I know it's always easier to talk when you are in the dressing room, and it's always tough in the middle, but my personal observation is we shouldn't have let this game go into the last over. Obviously when you put yourself in that situation, someone has to pick his hand up and say, 'I want to finish this game'. It shouldn't have gone into the last over."
It was an interesting observation from Gambhir. Over the last few years, Dhoni has been India's best ODI batsman, especially when it comes to finishing games off. He has his method of doing things: he takes the game deep, and more often than not it pays off. Gambhir, however, feels otherwise. He said that perhaps Dhoni wanted someone else to take the responsibility of going for the final assault.
"I know it's easier said than done," Gambhir said. "It's always different. The pressure on players in the middle is far more. It's they who have to take that decision. It's their game plan. I don't know what was going through MS's mind, but maybe he wanted to delay it, maybe he wanted someone else to take that responsibility. Cometh the hour, I think the most important shot of the match was made by him. Six balls, 13 runs, with the kind of shot he played, he has done a fantastic job, he has always been a finisher, but that's his game plan. He wants to delay it.
"Someone like me, if I was there, I wouldn't have taken it to the last over, because I always feel that any runs in the last over is far more pressure than finishing one or two overs before. Even if you need five or six runs in the last over, the pressure is far more on the batting side. We are different human beings, we think differently, we have different gameplans."
Gambhir was asked if he was happy with the rotation policy, which has him sitting out every third game, and when India would start playing their best playing XI in this tournament. Gambhir said even tonight's side was the best XI, and that it was not about big names.
"To be honest, any [XI] - for me this is the best XI too," Gambhir said. "For me, the best XI is if 11 players have the belief they can beat any opposition on the park. And this playing XI had the belief that they could beat Australia in Australia and in this ODI. For me, one or two individuals don't make a difference. It's about 11 people who have the belief that they can beat any opposition on that given day.
"This XI had that belief that we can beat Australia today. For me this was the best playing XI. It's not about names, it's about people who can go out there and have that belief from No. 1 to No. 11. If they have the belief that 'yes, we can win this game', that's the best playing XI. You don't want names, you want people who can deliver. We have shown it, I think."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo