‘300-plus was chaseable’
You don't need M.S. Dhoni to say "we lost wickets at regular intervals". "A three-hundred-plus was chaseable. Pakistan were only 105 for one in 25 overs but accelerated, which we did not." It was a big flop show from which the young Indians would do well to learn.
The middle order, not tested earlier in the tri-series, was found wanting in a crunch situation. It is mysterious how the batting often flops when it matters the most.
The platform was perfect for the youngsters to step into the senior players' shoes. But that was not to be. Virender Sehwag fell early but that is how he has played throughout his career.
Saturday should have been the stage where Gautam Gambhir ought to have continued on. Rohit Sharma, who has it in him to be a big match player, threw away his wicket just when the second wicket pair had begun to bloom.
It is difficult to fathom the reason behind sending pinch-hitter Yusuf Pathan at number four, a crucial batting position that forms the backbone of the team.
When Dhoni explained the rationale behind this, it seemed he did not value the number four spot or Yusuf's wicket. "He is one of those batsmen who can actually go after the bowlers and can utilise the last seven overs of field restrictions. That was the aim. If he gets out you do not lose too much. If he clicks, it really helps the side."
Was Saturday the time for experiment?
However, Dhoni did admit his mistake of coming behind Suresh Raina at seven. Yuvraj Singh, at five, and Dhoni, at seven, ought to have batted a place higher when chasing a big target and that too in an all-important final.
"That decision (of sending Raina ahead) was taken in a positive frame of mind. Had Yuvraj played through and Raina rotated the strike better, we'd have been in a comfortable position going into the last 10 overs. But we kept losing wickets," Dhoni said.
Knowing the conditions well, Dhoni erred once again in selecting a player of Yusuf's calibre. His off-spinners were hardly used --- he was given only two overs each in the three matches. "Yusuf was used according to the situation. You can say he was given only two overs. But he bowls more flatter and does not really flight the ball. We used different bowlers in different situations."
The only positive way of looking at last night's defeat is that the pinch has come at the right time, ahead of next week's Asia Cup, for which the team will depart from Mumbai on June 22.
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