Dhoni Disappointed With Loss On Home Turf, But Protects Youngsters
At a time when ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’ released, losing a match in his home ground (for the first time) — with friends and family, hundreds of fans and kids who got introduced to the man behind Ranchi's inclusion in international cricket in the stands — is worse than a nightmare for Captain Cool but he couldn’t avoid it.
India lost to New Zealand in the fourth ODI by 19 runs on a tricky wicket on Wednesday. The visitors leveled the series at 2-2 but critics have raised doubts about Dhoni’s resolution to use more of youngsters in the bilateral series.
Dhoni stuck to his combination with Kedar Jadhav and Axar Patel, he even roped in Dhawal Kulkarni for the rubber. Barring Patel’s 38, that looked like a ray of hope for the hosts chasing 261, nobody fired as such. Kulkarni leaked 59 for a wicket in his seven overs whereas Jadhav was dismissed for a duck. Since both Jadhav and Patel are all-rounders, the skipper is adamant and believes they will call the shots in future.
“When chasing, batting down the order on such a wicket is tough. You need to give time to the youngsters. It is important for them to experience more of such games and that’s how they will gain experience. You can learn a lot from watching but when you go through the motion, it will act as a learning curve,” said Dhoni at the post-match conference.
He fired with the bat (80 off 91 balls) in the third ODI at Mohali — that India won by seven wickets — but could not rotate the strike here. Jimmy Neesham cleaned up the skipper after he limped to 11 off 31 balls that had no boundaries. Defending his stance, Dhoni said, “The wicket kept slowing down making it difficult for batters to rotate strike. When the score is not too much, one looks for partnerships. The new ball comes on to the bat better during the start but gradually, it becomes hard.”
“Once you have a partnership, it is easy but if you lose wickets, it adds to the pressure,” added Dhoni, who created a stir before the match arriving in his Hummer beside the New Zealand cricket team bus.
The man, who doesn’t express himself much even if the situation is extreme, admitted being disappointed to lose a match in front of his home crowd.
But Dhoni dissected the cricket calendar and pointed that the lack of ODI matches could be the reason behind the fluctuation in form. “If you see the last one-and-a-half years, we didn’t play much ODI cricket. The statistics do not reflect the exact scenario but at one point, our top order batted brilliantly, so I batted down. On this same wicket, had the opposition scored 300 and above, there would have been only one way to score — going for shots,” he declared.
However, he kept shielding his young guns and revealed why he ate up deliveries to settle down. “When the wicket is slow, you think you may play out a few deliveries building a partnership, save wickets and then, chase it down in the last few overs. We have batsmen who can do the job but batting down the order is the toughest thing to do,” he signed off.
India will play the final ODI at Vizag on Saturday, it remains to be seen whether Dhoni’s Hummer swag soars beyond the Kiwis.