MSD reflects upon Wankhede carnage- Our bowling was so bad I won’t classify it as bad

MSD reflects upon Wankhede carnage- Our bowling was so bad I won’t classify it as bad

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ODI captain Mahendra Dhoni conceded that nothing went right for the hosts during South Africa’s series-clinching savage onslaught in Sunday’s fifth and final One-Dayer, but said the team should look at the big picture going forward to find a balanced squad for all occasions.

Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers smashed centuries as the tourists ran up 438-4 for the joint third-highest ever ODI total. India were bowled out for 224, and crashed to a 214-run defeat.

“I know India is more about result, but at the same time you won’t always get the results if you are not looking into the process. It’s a tough situation,” Dhoni told a post-match news conference. “At the same time we are looking for (a) solution. We have to try a few other things, because if you are doing the same thing, you will get the same results," he added.

South Africa recorded their first bilateral ODI series victory on Indian soil in five attempts with the 3-2 verdict. This followed the visitors 2-0 triumph in the preceding three-match Twenty20 series.

“We have to look at the larger picture. (Otherwise) may be you will win a series here and there. But to be consistent you have to have a settled team. Our team does not look to be that settled,” Dhoni said.

Dhoni is under tremendous pressure following his third limited-overs series defeat, starting with the Bangladesh tour in June. The skipper has also copped criticism during the South Africa ODI series for constantly tinkering with the batting order.

“You have to look at the venue, what kind of wicket is provided and accordingly you have to make changes. I had made a few changes in the batting order to see what gives more strength to our batting order, what looks like a very good composition when you are chasing. All these things you have to study,” said Dhoni, defending his move.

Binny is best seam-bowling all-rounder

The skipper declared that Stuart Binny, who figured in only one ODI in the series, is the country’s best seam-bowling all-rounder and southpaws Axar Patel, who featured in four out of the five ODIs, and Ravindra Jadeja were the country's best bets for spin bowling all-rounders.

“We will keep talking we don't have seaming all-rounders. We have tried Stuart. People have criticised that also, but if you look at all-rounders in India, who is your best seaming bowling all-rounder – it’s Stuart Binny – and the two best spinning all-rounders are Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel. Whether you like it or not, these are our best seaming and spinning all-rounders and we have to make the best out of them,” Dhoni said.

Lower-order batting weak

Dhoni said the lower-order batting is turning out to be a weak-link.

“We feel our lower-order batting is slightly on the lighter side when we play against good fast bowlers. Actually it puts a lot of pressure on the top six batsmen. If you lose one or two early wickets, then you have only three or four batsmen to play with as you can’t rely too much on your lower-order,” the skipper said.

“The good thing is we have time in our hand, but we have to find individuals who can fit into those slots and they have to start doing well. There are a few areas of concern. We have to find individuals who can handle the pressures of international cricket. And once they are successful, the job will become slightly easier.”

Pace bowling department a big worry

“We have tried going for fast bowlers who can bowl quick, but realised they were giving away more runs, and that we are better off playing with seamers who are more into the line and length,” Dhoni said.

“Ideally Mohit (Sharma) should be your third seamer, but you have to mix and match as to who is your death bowler, who can bowl middle overs, and who is your new ball bowler. We have tried a lot of different fast bowlers, who have not done really well for us. But at the same time when they go back and play Duleep Trophy or Deodhar Trophy or IPL, they are the ones who have done well.

“I think there's a bit of difference between top first class cricket and international cricket. Overall we are off and on. We are lacking a bit of consistency when it comes to death bowling.”

Our bowling was so bad I won’t classify it as bad

“Today they (South Africa) had good partnerships and the wicket was on the flatter side. I thought, may be, with spinners, with that extra fielder outside, we can exploit it, but the wicket was a bit too true to stop the opposition, who were scoring at a very brisk pace. So it was a difficult one. I don’t count it as a bad performance. It was so bad that I would not count it as bad,” he said.

When asked what went wrong in the decider, Dhoni said, “Yeh sawal aaj mat poocho match me galti kahan hui. Sade charso run ke aaspaas bane hai aur aap poochte hain galti kahan hui? 

(Don’t ask me what went wrong today. Close to 450 runs had been scored by South Africa, and you are asking this?).

“Kuch catches choote hain (some catches were dropped), we bowled a bit short in the beginning and gave width to the batsmen. Up to 20-25 overs we were in some control, but once they accelerated, 10-12-15 runs an over were scored. 438 or 440 is a very difficult target to chase.

“We have chased up to 350, but even 10 runs above that and pressure builds up. I remember at Rajkot we made 414 and Sri Lanka responded with 411. We won that close match by three runs (in December, 2009), but the ground was different and the attacks were similar.

"They batted very well here. We wanted to go for it and decided to give ourselves some time to build up partnerships and the overall plan was to bat 50 overs. Sometimes it happens and at other times it does not.”

Need spin-assist tracks at home in ODIs

“The wicket (in Mumbai) was true and it was a very good batting wicket, no turn on offer for spinners. Our fast bowlers, yes they can swing the ball, but when it is flat they are not the ones who can push the opposing batsmen on the back foot, and even when they are fast, they don't have the bounce as they don't hit the deck hard.

“Our strength is entirely different. If you look on this wicket, everyone has gone for runs, which is rare. There was not really much on offer for our spinners or fast bowlers. That was the reason once the partnerships (two century stands) happened and they looked to accelerate, it was very difficult to stop the boundaries.

"They (centurions de Kock, du Plessis and de Villiers) were playing the big shots. All strategies were used by us, but there are days when it does not work. When the wicket is so true and if you have that kind of partnership, it is very difficult to stop the opposition.

“You don't get turning tracks in Johannesburg or any other place. You have to play to your strength (turning tracks), but at times they (pitches) are over-rolled and you get very flat wickets. It's something which keeps happening. We had played against Australia where there was very less turn for spinners and 350s were scored and lot of big scores were made. Till they don't score something like 400, it's a chaseable score. If it does not happen in one particular game you can't really think too much about it.”

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