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Bowling let us down, says Dhoni

AB de Villiers

Calcutta: The first match in South Africa was always going to be tough, but that India, the world champions and the No.1-ranked team in the 50-over format, would suffer an embarrassing 141-run loss came as a surprise.

The Indian bowlers couldn’t exploit the friendly conditions, something which their South African counterparts used to their advantage. The likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel gave a torrid time to the Rohit Sharmas.

Had it not been for captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s fighting 65, the Indian total would have looked even poorer.

However, more than the batsmen failing to deal with the Proteas' pace, it were the bowlers who let the match slip conceding a 350-plus total. Chasing a 359-run target was almost impossible on such a track. The Indians were bundled out for 217 in just 41 overs.

Dhoni didn’t mince his words and said that his bowlers let down the team. He criticised the batsmen as well, but stressed on the point that the Wanderers pitch was no way easy enough to let the opposition post 350-plus on the board.

The following are excerpts

AB de Villiers: It’s always nice to start a series with a win. We respect India, as they are the No. 1-ranked team. But it’s important to stay positive and confident no matter what your previous results were. We feel we’re going to win trophies in the future and that’s how we’re going to play.

I think we were lucky to lose the toss, as we would have also bowled had we won the toss.

But Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla got us off to a great start that laid the foundation for others to build on. I thought they were a bit too short in the first ten overs and that gave us the kick-start. Quinton showed great maturity for someone of his age.

I am happy with my own form but credit must also be given to JP Duminy. He was fantastic and he made things a lot easier for me at the other end. We always knew that if we can take on the bowlers in the slog overs, that would put pressure on them. The plan worked. Overall, we showed a lot of flair.

I must also congratulate Dale Steyn… He was just splendid. In fact, he is a bit of a freak with any kind of ball in his hand.

We know this is a huge series and India will look to bounce back. We are not going to stand back either.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni: All credit to South Africa. We didn’t start off well with our bowling, especially on this track, which offered some extra bounce. The bowling department let us down, but our batting also didn’t click. It was definitely not a 350-run pitch and our bowlers let us down.

We can’t blame the lack of practice, as we didn’t play well to be honest. We let ourselves down by not getting off to positive start while chasing a steep target. Our new ball bowling was particularly poor. Yes, Mohammed Shami and the spinners bowled in the right areas, but the others faltered. All credit to Shami for sticking to his line and length as we can’t rely on only reverse swing in such conditions.

I think we need a bit more pace. Let’s hope for the best in the next two matches.

Quinton de Kock (MoM): I am very proud. I didn’t expect all such good things to happen. I’m also proud of the other guys for their individual performances. It’s always nice to get Man of the Match award, but it was a team effort.

India bowled well initially and they were hitting the right areas. But I kept my cool. I am not a star yet as we have so many stars in our team and it is just a starting phase for me.