Mahendra Singh Dhoni has blamed his batsmen for India's 50-run loss in Adelaide, and asked them to show more responsibility and consistency through the rest of the tournament. "The batsmen should have taken the initiative and been more careful about their shot selection," Dhoni said after India's second successive loss in the CB Series.
Dhoni, who battled hard for his 37 and required a runner after suffering strains in both his calves, said that lack of patience could have been one of the factors for the failure. "It's important to stick to your role and responsibility. They have done in bits and pieces but they have to get better."
Dhoni has long been stressing the need to preserve wickets, but the Indian batsmen failed to do that at the Adelaide Oval. "The first 12 overs with the Kookaburra ball is important and without Brett Lee it was important to keep wickets because it gets easier with the ball getting old and if you have the batsmen then it's an advantage."
He also defended the team's decision to go in with five bowlers after Virender Sehwag had failed to recover from a hip strain. "Viru [Sehwag] was not 100% fit. And I was very keen to go with five bowlers in our next game against Sri Lanka. So we decided we'd use the opportunity to try that out today and it paid off."
Nobody could argue with the fact that the Indian bowlers did a magnificent job to restrict Australia to a modest total for the second game in a row. "You don't expect anything more from the bowlers. They have bowled brilliantly in the event so far."
The batting, though, came apart. It was important for India to build partnerships but there was only one notable stand, a 56-run fifth-wicket partnership between Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj seemed to be getting his form back when he pulled Brad Hogg to Stuart Clark at long-on. Dhoni, however, didn't blame the batsman for taking the risk. "The shot was on," Dhoni said, adding that the execution had been faulty.
Instead, Dhoni reckoned his own dismissal dealt the knockout blow to the Indian chase. "The turning point was my run-out. And it was difficult for Robin [Uthappa] to lead the rearguard with the tail."
With India playing a batsman short, Irfan Pathan was pushed up to No. 3, but the move failed yet again, as it had at the MCG in India's previous match against Australia, when Pathan managed a 30-ball 18. Dhoni, though, defended the move. "Sending Irfan up balances the batting order and keep it stable. And Irfan at 8 or 3 doesn't make too much of a difference."
India's second defeat in a row makes their next game, against Sri Lanka on Tuesday, even more crucial. Dhoni knows the importance of that match, and hopes his batsmen have realised that as well.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo