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Batting let us down: Dhoni

Napier: Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said his team’s failure to build partnerships after losing early wickets was the cause of the defeat to New Zealand in the first one-dayer, on Sunday.

Chasing 293 for victory, India lost the first ODI, by 24 runs despite Virat Kohli scoring a superb century.

“We lost three quick wickets, that of Virat, Ravindra Jadeja and mine. And that was the turning point of the match. It was important that one of us carried on till the end,” Dhoni pointed out.

“Our batting let us down. A few of the batsmen played well. But it is important that if you get a decent start, you push on to get a big score. It is a little easier in India to do so, but you have to work for it here, as the new ball is difficult to negotiate.

“If one gets out, it should be to a good ball,” Dhoni said, adding: “The number four and five batsmen haven’t been consistent for us. Even if we don’t get hundreds or fifties from them, those slots are crucial especially when the opposition scores 280 to 300 runs.

“When we lose early wickets, we need partnerships to rebuild and cannot play catch up, thereby putting pressure on the lower middle-order.”

Dhoni, however, said the fact that India got close to the target only reflected the firepower in the team. “At the same time, we can say that not many batsmen scored runs, but we were still able to get close to 290. It means that we have got plenty of firepower. We just need to apply ourselves better” he explained.

Four out of the top six batsmen — Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Dhoni himself — fell to short-pitched balls or bouncers, perhaps underlining a growing weakness in the Indian batting line-up. But the captain was quick to negate the notion.

“One of the options is not to play a shot off these deliveries. But our strength has been playing shots,” he opined. “We can always pick and choose when to play and when not to play (that shot),” he added.

Dhoni reserved special praise for his deputy Kohli and lauded his bowlers’ efforts to restrict New Zealand below 300 on a decent batting track.