Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni blamed the profligacy of his bowlers in the initial overs as the prime reason for his team's defeat in the third ODI here on Friday. "The first 10 overs were crucial. We gave away too many runs. Otherwise spinners would have had a few more runs to play with," said Dhoni after the first 10 overs of England innings, cost 60 runs to the Indian team. "It's not the first time it has happened to us. There was a phase when we suffered from the same malaise.
On your mark: Ravindra Jadeja during his knock of 78 at the Oval
yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
If the rivals have to chase more than six runs per over, it becomes difficult for them but we gave away too many runs upfront." Dhoni didn't blame the weather much for his team's defeat although he did say the spinners got less turn after the interruption. "It was a mixed thing. It gave an advantage that England had only 15 runs less to chase. The disadvantage was that the ball became wet and it affected the turn for the spinners. The fast bowlers were handicapped too as the ball was coming nicely on the bat."
Well as Dhoni himself and man-of-match Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin batted, the Indian skipper lamented the lack of runs from the top order. "In our innings, only lower order made runs. As a team, we need to click together. I thought we were 30-40 runs short. We were not able to put par score on the board. The first spell by England bowlers was very good."
On hindsight, Dhoni was asked to reflect by the media whether he could have asked Suresh Raina to bowl a few more overs or whether he made a mistake in giving only four overs to Praveen Kumar. "He bowled five overs. It was difficult to make him do more. There were specialist bowlers and you needed to bring them in. "As for Praveen, the last over he bowled he went for a few runs and Craig Kieswetter was very aggressive against him. Praveen is not very quick and if the ball is not swinging, then you look to try different bowlers.
Munaf, I think was a better option because he has more experience and he gets bounce." On the positive side, the display of Jadeja and Ashwin drew wholesome praise from the Indian captain. "Jadeja batted brilliantly. His bowling was always up to the mark. It was his batting which was a concern. He has shown improvement. He showed it in IPL where he could face fast bowlers and yet play big shots. Overall, he looks more complete right now."
"When Jadeja was dropped, at that time we had Yuvraj Singh who was also bowling left-arm spin. We also had Yusuf Pathan who was a big hitter. "As for Ashwin is a thinking cricketer. This was a game where he could show his talent. It was turning a bit and I think he bowled in the right areas. He loves to compete on the field all the time and it's important."
Jadeja made 78 from 89 balls and also picked up two wickets which made him an obvious choice for the man-of-the match award. Ashwin made 36 off 19 balls and picked up three wickets. Another positive which Dhoni mentioned was that he could bowl with five bowlers. "Finally, it looks as if we have five bowlers. We have been struggling in this department. If somebody has an off day, in that case you have five specialist bowlers. Then you can also bring in part-timers."
Having a young side at his command, there is a feeling that Dhoni could bat up the order. "If I bat up the order, it puts more pressure on younger batsmen lower down the order. When I am at number five or six, I can maneuever with the lower half. You need somebody who can chat with the youngsters in the middle and bring in a sense of calmness. Having an experienced man down the order really helps."
The Indian captain felt the morale of his side hasn't gone down despite drawing blank in the England summer thus far. "The boys are excited. They want to give more than 100 per cent. When it comes to motivational factor, we are not down and out. Luck at times hasn't been with us but the morale is high."