India have crossed 300 only twice in the last 18 Test innings overseas. At 286-7 yesterday, with all the recognised batsmen back in the hut, there was a danger of India going down that road again until R Ashwin and Zaheer Khan prolonged Australia's wait for a two-nil series lead here at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Exactly 12 seasons ago, India lost the Sydney Test by an innings and 41 runs despite VVS Laxman's 167. Four years ago, India lost after a final-day collapse. At Melbourne last week, India's batsmen just about survived two sessions.
It's party time: Australian players celebrate after winning the second
Test by an innings and 68 runs against India at the Sydney Cricket
Ground yesterday. pic/ Getty Images
Dhoni finally acknowledged India's batting woes. "Of course (it is a worrying sign) if you see in the last two series abroad in England and Australia, we haven't scored enough. We didn't put enough runs on the board. To win Tests, taking 20 wickets is very important, but we also need to give that cushioning of extra runs on the board, so that the bowlers can plan the opposition out.
"It is a bit of a worry, but the good thing is that we saw the batsmen score runs in the second innings. Of course, it was not good enough to save the Test, but we have seen in the last couple of Tests that everybody has scored at least a fifty. That gives us an indication that we need to convert those into big innings," Dhoni told reporters after India's humiliating innings-defeat.
Every Indian batsman with the exception of Virat Kohli has struck a fifty in the series thus far. But, Australia have three centurions in their camp. "To exactly pinpoint the reason as to why we are not converting those fifties into big hundreds is particularly difficult for me. But we'll have to see whether the batsmen getting out are getting out to good deliveries or whether we are making mistakes and getting out," Dhoni said.
When reminded that Indian cricket was 'on a free fall', Dhoni said: "Getting a parachute will help. By parachute, it means good performances in all three departments. It's something we need to address as quickly as possible. Especially, on tours abroad. We have found it a bit difficult to get the opposition out, and also put runs on the board consistently."
Dhoni defended his highly critical defensive field placements on Days 2 and 3. "Frankly, I felt I kept the slip cordon for a bit longer in this particular game. They were there, and nothing really went that way. I think with a bit more execution, and a bit more planning, we can try to use those slip fielders as a catching cover or a catching cover-point rather than sticking just to the slip cordon," he said.