Struggling for runs in the ongoing ODI series against South Africa, an under-fire Suresh Raina got the much-needed backing of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who advised the middle-order batsman to give himself a bit more time before unleashing his big shots.
“More than the form he needs to give himself a bit more time. He’s gone in and played the big shots. Whenever you go in you actually have more time than what you think. It’s important for him to play a few deliveries,” said Dhoni at the post-match press conference after India lost the third ODI by 18 runs in Rajkot on Sunday.
“It’s not easy to straightaway play the big shots. He needs to give himself a bit more time as it becomes difficult to find people who can clear the big outfield. My personal feeling is he needs to give himself a bit more time and everything will be fine,” said the captain.
The Uttar Pradesh left-hander was dismissed for ducks in the last two games ODIs scoring three in the series opener at Kanpur. He did not have a great time in the preceding T20 series against the Proteas, either.
Talking about India’s 18-run loss to South Africa in Sunday’s third ODI, Dhoni said the increasingly slower wicket made life difficult for the batsmen. “In the first half, the wicket played differently and as the game progressed, it became more and more difficult. If the wicket had not changed, 270 was a very good effort by our bowlers. But it became slower and we were not able to play the big shots.
“I thought it was a very good effort by the bowlers. I thought it was a good wicket to bat on, the spinners did not get much assistance but they bowled well. As I said, it got slower and slower and there was a bit of reverse swing. The fast bowlers used the extra fielder in the end quite nicely. If the wicket had not got slower, 270 was a par score,” he explained.
Dhoni, who made 47 and also added 80 runs with his deputy Virat Kohli, who top-scored with 77, rued that not enough runs were scored in the first 10 overs when openers Rohit Sharma (65) and Shikhar Dhawan (13) batted and then between overs 30 and 40 when he and Kohli got together. “I don’t think we got enough runs in the first 10 which was a crucial phase with the wicket getting slower. And 30th to 40th again was another crucial period. We wanted to bat quite late and at the same time we started playing the big shots close to the 37th over.
“But though I and Virat were set we were not able to connect and play big shots. We never middled anything. Also not to forget the outfield over here is big. It was a tough one, especially with less pace on offer and you have to play the big shots,” Dhoni said.
Asked about Kohli, he said his deputy has never been out of form in the series and that the team was still searching for the ideal no. 7 in the line-up who can come out and play big shots. “He’s (Kohli) not somebody who is out of form. He got run out in a few games. We wanted to try him out at no. 4 and he got run out and it became slightly more difficult for this line up. The good thing is Ajinkya Rahane batted really well when he got the opportunity to bat higher up. He can play authentic cricket shots and can exploit the field well.
“But in this game I felt it was important for Virat to bat at 3 and that’s the slot he will generally bat. We are still looking for someone at no. 7 who can play big shots. We also have to play five bowlers,” Dhoni said.