Indian captain admits batsmen fell short of expectations but says leaving out Virender Sehwag was a fair decision
Without using it as an excuse, Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the inopportune rain at the end of India’s batting innings and the start of the bowling one had played a part in his team’s nine-wicket drubbing at the hands of Australia in the ICC World Twenty20 2012 Super Eights Group 2 match.
“When we played the last match with five bowlers, then our performance was really good,” said Dhoni. “Based on just this match, to say that our bowlers didn’t do well will not be right because we have to look at the conditions as well. When our batting was over, there was light rain and the umpires waited for a while. Australia took the light roller then when we went to bowl, and again there was rain.
“And once the ball becomes wet, it will not do much. That’s the reason why all our three spinners and part-timers couldn’t bowl well. They bowled a few short-pitched deliveries and a few full tosses, which showed there was no real grip for them. That was one of the main reasons we were not able to put pressure on the Australians.”
Dhoni was asked why, after India chose to go in with five bowlers, it was Virender Sehwag who had to miss out. “I don’t want to take individual names, but there were just two options with us and we had to take one,” he said cryptically. “In these type of tournaments, we should go with horses for courses. We should take players who are useful to the team under those circumstances. To justify that only this player could have been dropped is a bit difficult.
“But yes, we needed to score some more runs. It was 70 for 2 after ten overs and then we quickly lost a few more wickets. It built a bit of a pressure. We had to play ten overs and score runs as well. We thought we would set the kind of target that will give us a chance to defend it. We were thinking of 140 to 150, but we were not thinking of the rain.”
India must win its remaining two matches to keep alive its hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals. Dhoni said that didn’t necessarily mean the team was under additional pressure. “It is always good to be in a situation where you have to win every game, the reason being that you’ve got to be at your best,” he said. “There is no scope for complacency and that is the good part. You have to be at your best throughout. Hopefully we can go out and express ourselves without worrying too much about the result.”
Justifying giving the new ball to R Ashwin and Zaheer Khan when Irfan Pathan was waiting in the wings – Pathan had procured important breakthroughs in previous matches with the new ball – Dhoni said, “Zak bowls really bowls well and his record against those openers (Shane Watson and David Warner) has been really good. We thought we would bowl Ashwin from one end and Zaheer from the other. We were looking for wickets initially, because we had to defend 140.
“If you look at the Australian openers, who make most of their runs, it was important that we got early breakthroughs. There were one or two close calls (leg-before shouts in the same Zaheer over against both openers) that didn’t go our way. But that was the main reason we decided to open with Ashwin and Zaheer.”