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Start using brains: Dhoni to bowlers

- India’s 2nd consecutive odi series defeat overseas
Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum walk off the field along with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, after New Zealandís victory in the fourth ODI, in Hamilton, on Tuesday

Hamilton: “Start using your brains more”, Team India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni told his wayward bowlers after losing the ODI series to New Zealand here on Tuesday.

Lashing out at the bowlers, who have been wayward through the series, Dhoni said: “When it comes to talent, we definitely have bowlers who can do well. But at the same time, they will have to start using their brains more and improvise.

“(Mohammed) Shami is someone who has been quite consistent, apart from this series. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been off form in this series but he’s a good bowler. At the end of the day, they need to push themselves because with rule changes it is going to be quite tough. But it hasn’t been the rule changes that is hurting us in this series, it has been bad bowling,” Dhoni said.

India slumped to their second consecutive series defeat overseas, as New Zealand rode Ross Taylor’s unbeaten century to thrash the visitors by seven wickets.

India had lost 0-2 to South Africa in the three-game ODI series on their last tour.

Chasing 279 for victory, New Zealand reached 280 for three in 48.1 overs with Taylor scoring a match-winning 112 not out off 127 balls to take the hosts home with 11 balls to spare. The Indians are already 0-3 down in the series with one match to go.

Taylor also shared two important partnerships — first with Kane Williamson (60) putting on 130-run for the third wicket and then with captain Brendon McCullum (49 not out) which yielded, an unbroken 92 for the fourth wicket.

Dhoni said that his bowlers consistently bowled short and wide right through the series and gave away too many runs.

“Frankly, our bowling was quite disappointing. This was a kind of wicket where one thing you don’t want to do is to bowl short and wide. I think we consistently did that with the new ball and the older ball,” Dhoni said.

“We often complain about the five fielders outside the circle, but when you bowl short and wide it doesn’t matter. I think the fast bowlers gave away too many runs. Talking about spinners, they bowled well and hit the right areas,” he added.

Dhoni was also critical of his top-order batsmen who made the same mistakes of losing wickets at crucial intervals.

“We committed the same mistakes when it comes to batting. We lost wickets at crucial time, which has been the case so far in this series,” he said.

“But even then we were able to get close to 280-odd runs, which I thought was good enough provided we bowled well on this wicket. But that was not the case,” he said.

The Indian captain said losing wickets at the wrong time put pressure on the lower-order batsmen. “We struggled at the top. I think the last game we got some kind of start going, but this time again we struggled. Once 10 overs are gone, we lost a couple of wickets,” Dhoni said.

“We have to get partnerships going. We did get some kind of partnership going late in the day, but we lost wickets at the wrong time which means it puts pressure on the middle-order and that frustrates you because then you fail to get those extra 15-20 runs,” Dhoni said.

Asked why he chose to take off the spinners after Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin had bowled well in their initial spells, Dhoni said: “Given the way how the fast bowlers bowled in the first 10 overs, I wasn’t sure they would be able to keep the pressure on later.

“So I personally thought that it’s important to save the spinners, especially Jadeja, and use them later, when the batsmen might have to go for the big shots.

“But the way the fast bowlers bowled in the middle overs it meant that they never really had to play those big shots. That was a crucial phase, where we shouldn’t have given away too many runs. But we were giving a boundary every over and we were not able to build any pressure,” he said.

India made a couple of changes to their side ahead of this must-win game, dropping both Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina. Virat Kohli was asked to open the innings, while Ajinkya Rahane batted at No. 3.

Ambati Rayudu played his first ODI since the Zimbabwe trip in mid-2013 and Stuart Binny made his India debut.

“We had to make these changes at some point. Raina was getting good starts but he was not able to convert those starts. Sometimes if you can take the individual away for a few games, he can relax and think freely about his game and that’s the reason why we rested both Shikhar (Dhawan) and Suresh Raina in this game,” Dhoni opined.

“We had a chat with Virat, and he was quite confident about opening. It allowed us to play Rahane at No. 3 and Rayudu at No. 4, which allowed us to maintain the strength of our team.

“Rahane came in as an opener but a few months ago, along with the selectors, we decided that he is a good middle order batsman and he bats well there. We have tried him as opener earlier and it didn’t work, so we should keep trying him in the middle order,” added Dhoni.

India’s ploy to open the innings with Virat Kohli failed as he was dismissed cheaply.

Dhoni and Jadeja had produced a magnificent late onslaught after opener Rohit Sharma scored a half-century, to guide India to 278 for five .

In reply, New Zealand got off to a rollicking start with Ryder and Guptill taking the Indian bowlers to task. The two scored a flurry of boundaries, especially off Mohammed Shami, and together hit 10 fours and a six in their opening stand of 54 .

But once again, Ryder failed to sustain the momentum and was bowled in the eighth over by first-change Varun Aaron. He scored 19 off 18 balls with four boundaries. Guptill was gone four runs later in the next over, as Shami extracted his revenge from the opposite end, trapping the Auckland centurion leg before wicket. He scored 35 off 27 balls, hitting four boundaries and a six.

Williamson and Taylor, thereafter, capitalised on the platform laid by the openers. As Taylor and Williamson were scoring heavily, Dhoni brought in Jadeja and Ashwin to put the brakes on the run flow and the two spinners bowled in tandem for 10 overs, giving away only 30 runs.

But the medium pacers had to come back into the attack, and that once again opened the flood-gates as the next 10 overs yielded 70 runs with Taylor and Williamson putting the chase back on track. (Agencies)