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Dhoni: Openers need to convert the starts

Virat Kohli after his dismissal for 78, in Hamilton, on Wednesday.

Hamilton: India will have to make a few changes ahead of the third one-dayer against New Zealand to bring their campaign back on track in the five-match ODI series, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said on Wednesday.

India were dethroned as the No. 1 ODI team after they suffered an agonising 15-run defeat in the rain-hit second ODI against New Zealand, who have now taken a 2-0 lead.

Dhoni asked his batsmen, especially openers, to pull up their socks and convert the starts into big scores.

“We got off to a good start in terms of not losing wickets. But if you are supposed to score 290-odd when you are chasing, and in the first 10 we are 38-odd runs and two wickets down, it becomes quite difficult for the middle order especially on a wicket which became slightly two-paced with the drizzle,” Dhoni said.

Dhoni asked his openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma to take more responsibility. “Once we got off to a start, the openers should have carried on for a bit longer so that they could have played a few more shots, scored a few more runs and taken a bit of pressure off from the middle order.

“The openers are getting some kind of a start but we are not able to convert those starts into 50s or 75s or big partnerships. I feel it is very crucial that once you get off to a good start it is important you make a big partnership,” he said, after India lost by 19 runs via the D/L method.

“Of course, we will have to change a few things and see how we are going to play our cricket. That is something that will be crucial. There have been a few things that have not gone our way but it is very important that if you get a chance you win the game,” Dhoni said.

Talking about the morale of the side, Dhoni said his boys are mentally tough and they always keep a positive dressing room environment.

“As far as the morale is concerned, it is a fantastic lively dressing room. What we always emphasise on is the result is not something that should have a lot of effect on the dressing room atmosphere,” the 32-year-old skipper said.

“Yes, they are linked but it should not be like when you are performing well, you have a different dressing room and when you are not, the entire scenario changes. We have been able to keep a good dressing room atmosphere, does not matter if we win or lose,” he said.

Dhoni, however, didn’t blame his bowlers. “There will always be pressure on the bowlers because you are always going to have a batting-heavy side, and the new ODI rule changes it has really affected us. More often than not we are seeing high run chases,” he said.

“But our death bowling has improved a lot if we compare it to what was happening may be six months back. What you are seeing close to 300 runs, you may see it as slightly expensive, but if we do not bowl as well as we are bowling in the last few overs, it may go in excess of 340. That puts some serious pressure on the batsmen. We have seen improvement, but there is still scope for improvement,” Dhoni added.

Dhoni also believed that multiple rain-breaks affected his side’s momentum in the day-night game at Seddon Park.

“Whenever it is a rain-obstructed game, if the number of overs gets reduced, the second team has a benefit if straight away it becomes a 20-over game, because you know your target and you have 10 wickets.

“But anything from close to 10 or 15 overs getting deducted, then you have a bit of a disadvantage because you have to start off really well and carry on the momentum throughout those 35 overs,” he opined. (PTI)