Mahendra Singh Dhoni all but ruled out Ishant Sharma for the third ODI in Christchurch, leaving only a small window open for the lanky medium-pacer to recover from a shoulder injury in time.
“Ishant bowled a bit but I think he will take a few more days of rest, at least two more days… it will be quite tight for the Christchurch game as of now,” Dhoni said after the Wellington washout.
Ishant’s continued absence is a concern for the team as the third medium-pacer, in this case Munaf Patel, has barely undergone a proper workout in the ODIs. In the first game, Munaf bowled just two overs while India did not bowl at all in the second match.
“Whichever bowler has bowled one-change has struggled a bit because of the conditions. The wickets are very helpful for the seamers who operate with the new ball, but if you are one-change, it’s the toughest job,” Dhoni conceded.
“Even the New Zealand one-change bowler always goes for runs. It’s a very difficult position for a fast bowler to bowl and the 10 extra overs of powerplay are not helping them. It’s normally the one-change fast bowler who bowls in the second powerplay as well, so it will be very difficult to say what a good performance is for a third seamer.”
Dhoni said the stop-start type of cricket that has been a feature of the tour so far frustrated batsmen no end. “It’s tough for the batsmen who are in, especially when it rains on and off,” said Dhoni. “Each time he has to set himself up before going for the big strokes. But I am happy with the way the batsmen played … whatever limited opportunity they got they scored runs and what else.”
Even with the score they had on the board Dhoni felt his team was in a strong position on Friday. “I don’t know whether we would have won the game or not but we were in a good position. If it was a 50-over game then we would have got a decent score,” he said. “I can’t say how much we would have got but the kind of start we got, we would have got a par-plus score.
It would have been tough for New Zealand as the ground is not such a small one. It’s not that you can go after the spinners each and every time.”
It’s over to Christchurch then and a return to small boundaries. At the moment, though, India won’t mind that. All they want is a full game of cricket.