India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Sunday defended his debatable decision to bat first in the sixth ODI against Australia and blamed the team's inconsistent batting for their series defeat.
India badly needed to win today's match to stay afloat in the seven-match series but Dhoni's gamble to bat first on a tricky track boomeranged and India slumped to 27 for five in nine overs and could never recover from there.
Blaming the batsmen for not applying them enough, Dhoni said it was just a matter of seeing through the first half an hour which the hosts failed to do.
"The pitch didn't misbehave in any way though there was a bit of movement for the fast bowlers early on. I said at the toss also that the first half-an-hour would be crucial and if we negotiate that we could set the total that we had in mind," a dejected Dhoni told reporters after the match.
Dhoni said he decided to bat first because the wicket had enough for the Indian spinners.
"Ground conditions and outfield were good. Of the wicket, I think it played superbly well. I think it was for the spinners more than the seam bowlers," he said.
"Initially, there was a bit of movement. But it was not off the wicket but because of the air as it was an early start. But as the day progressed it became better to bat on when the seamers were bowling in the second half. But I still think the spinners held the key on a wicket like this," Dhoni explained.
Dhoni conceded the match was as good as lost when the side lost its top half for a meagre 27.
"I think 27 for five was a bit too much. If we lost maybe one or two wickets, it would still be decent because you had the chance of getting back. We had a seventh batsman and we have also seen Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar contributing to a certain extent," said Dhoni.
"It was difficult to come back after that. Even 150 was looking very difficult after that and we were fortunate to cross the mark after that," he added.
Overall, Dhoni observed, the batsmen had not been consistent in the series.
"I think we are lacking consistency in our batting. We haven't backed the opportunities that we have got. A majority of the batsmen haven't contributed at the same time. In the games where our top order didn't perform, our middle order also didn't bat well.
"In the end we have lost the series. We have done well in patches in this series but we haven't grabbed the opportunities," said Dhoni.
On his dubious LBW decision, he said, "Good or bad decisions are part and parcel of the game. Maybe we would have got 20 more runs, maybe we could have underscored by 10 runs. So whatever has happened, has happened."
On the upcoming full series against Sri Lanka, Dhoni said it would be a different ball game altogether.
"We are playing the Tests first and then the one-dayers. I am not quite worried about the batsmen because we have an experienced Test team. We will think about ODIs after the Tests are over," he said.
Team India lost a chance to be the No 1 ranked side and Dhoni said, "You have to win games to be no.1 side. I think losing games in the series, and not winning the series, that itself says everything.
"But, it is not that we are too much behind and we have much cricket coming up. We will get the opportunity to be no.1 again but as a team we don't really concentrate on that," said Dhoni.