The Telegraph
Saturday , February 1 , 2014
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‘Batsmen need to adapt’

- Poor middle-over batting let us down, says Dhoni
Ross Taylor on way to his 102, in Wellington, on Friday

Wellington: Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni asked his batsmen to “improvise and adapt”, while praising his bowlers who gave away 303 runs in the fifth and final one-dayer where his team was overwhelmingly crushed by New Zealand by 87 runs.

After losing the fourth ODI three days ago, Dhoni had castigated his wayward bowlers, asking them to use their “brains more”.

On Friday, they conceded over 300 runs but he thought the new-ball bowling was “really good” and even the death bowling to some extent. The 0-4 loss to New Zealand meant that the Dhoni-led team has a winless streak of eight ODIs since last month, including three in South Africa. “All defeats are bad and at the end of the day you can’t really measure disappointment,” said a philosophical Dhoni.

Despite batting failures, he backed his batsmen but cautioned them about the need to learn and adapt their game. “We have invested a lot in our batting. It wasn’t a lack of experience because a lot of players in the side have played a lot of ODI cricket and most of them are batsmen. But New Zealand executed their plans very well and whatever we tried chasing or batting first it didn’t work. So now it is up to our batsmen to improvise and adapt and bring in a positive attitude,” he said.

“After one season, once you become a settled side the opposition starts planning against each and every batsman and that has been the case all over the world.

“Fresh questions are asked and the batsmen are talented enough to get out of it. But they will need to put in a lot of effort in the practice sessions and mentally make their plans, what they need to do once they go into the game,” he tried to explain.

Dhoni said his team has the talent to rise to the challenge. “I am hoping with the kind of talent they have, the amount of games that they have played they will come out of it and that will be a big positive for us,” Dhoni said, outlining this poor performance as a bad phase for the team.

“Throughout this series, they (New Zealand) have played very good cricket. Their new ball pair has been very good but where they've taken the game away is in the middle overs batting which set up their charge late in the innings, picking up 80-90 runs consistently. Poor middle-over batting let us down,” Dhoni said after the 87-run drubbing.

Asked about his own team’s performance, a visibly drained Dhoni said, “It is important to improvise and adapt quickly, which we have failed to do.”

Dhoni said the team needed to click in unison while chasing big scores which did not happen through the series. “In this series, more often than not, we were chasing big scores and you can’t rely on a couple of batsmen to score runs all the time. And so, apart from one game, most of the time we have been behind, having to catch up and the run-rate went too high. In the last 25 overs you can't really chase 8 or 9 runs per over. That has been the setback to some extent,”

For a change, the Indian captain was appreciative of his bowlers’ efforts. “In this game, the new ball bowling was really good and even the death bowling to some extent. I knew they will go for runs but I was happy with the death bowling,” he said.