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Focus on India’s home stretch batting blues

WorldCup2015 Updated: Feb 27, 2015 16:48 IST
Nilankur Das
MS Dhoni

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli were busy checking out DVDs and shoes at a store in a shopping mall on Hay Street, a couple of blocks away from the team hotel. Team director Ravi Shastri, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina too joined them in a bit as the media chased them around.

Thursday was another rest day for India. They have now decided to train on alternate days to sustain themselves after the long tour of Australia and due to a stretched out World Cup schedule where India are playing only one match a week. With two wins in two matches, and that too against top teams in Group B, India are more or less in line to enter the knockout stages. But there are still a few creases Dhoni would want his players to iron out before the business end of things.

At the post-match media conference after beating Pakistan, Dhoni had said India needed to drastically improve bowling in the initial overs as the bowlers were giving away too many boundary balls. Against South Africa, India turned up with one of their best bowling in the initial overs, giving away just three boundaries and accounting for Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla.

Late collapses

But the problem that came to the fore in both matches was that India lost wickets in a heap in the last 10 overs. Against Pakistan, from 273 for two in 45.2 overs, India lost five wickets for just 23 runs and huffed and puffed their way to 300. It was a similar situation against South Africa — from 261 for two in 43.3 overs, India lost five wickets for 41 runs and rolled to 307.

When asked, Dhoni defended his batsmen: “It’s not just us, most of the sides are facing similar problems. It’s not easy, especially if you lose a wicket. If you have set batsmen, they have an idea about the pace and bounce of the strip and they can score freely.”

He explained: “When I was batting with Jadeja, until that time we were scoring at a decent pace. It’s difficult for the batsmen, we can’t expect Ashwin and Shami to score that 8, 9 or 10 runs an over. As long as specialised batsmen were batting, I thought we were scoring at a decent pace. I don’t know the stats though.”

With four more matches left in the group stage, India have time to sort this out. “Slowly with more games and seeing the condition, we’ll start getting more and more runs,” he added.