Disappointed at being hit all over the park by Australia, a few Indian bowlers feel it will be better to put a bowling machine in the field instead of they rolling their arms in the ongoing ODI series, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.
India and Australia together scored a phenomenal 2,565 runs from the four matches played so far, excluding the 295 the visiting team scored in the abandoned Ranchi ODI and Dhoni said it is a new challenge for the bowlers to contain runs.
“It was more of a fight as to which side bowls less badly. With the extra fielder inside, if you are slightly off target, it goes for a boundary. A few of the bowlers are disappointed, they actually feel it will be better off to put a bowling machine there. It is a new challenge for the bowlers,” said Dhoni here last night after India chased down Australia’s 350 with six wickets and three balls to spare.
Dhoni said bowlers will eventually sort out how to adapt to the new ODI rule enforcing an extra fielder inside the 30-yard circle as compared to earlier times.
“We have not played enough with these set of new rules [in operation]. That’s why when you are captaining and a side has scored 300 or 325, you are not really used to it. All of a sudden, you see, 15 overs left, 220-230 and the Power Play is left, you are not really able to digest the feat because it’s not really natural,” said Dhoni.
“Three and a half hours of batting, the opposition is just hitting sixes and fours. It will take some time before the bowlers will also adjust to it. And at the same time, we will see some particular day if the wicket is doing a bit, sides may get out of 150-180 because of the two new balls.
“We will have to wait and watch but as of now, on good flat wickets, with a bit of dew around, it becomes a bit unfair on bowlers. The best of bowlers, fastest of bowlers, even they are at times bowling with third man and fine leg up.
It is difficult for the bowlers as of now,” Dhoni commented.
He also said because of these factors it has become difficult to single out a bad bowling performance as the old-fashioned thinking won’t do.
“I don’t know what is a bad performance for bowlers.
First five overs, you may have given 10 or 15, in the next two you might give away 20 or 25. Is that a bad performance or a good performance? It is difficult to actually say that this is a bad performance,” Dhoni said.
“We don’t know in this format what is a bad performance.
Ten overs 80 is a bad performance or 10 overs 60 is a bad performance or 10 overs 100 is a bad performance, that’s what we are still trying to find out,” he said.
Dhoni explained why he did not use Bhuvneshwar Kumar, India’s most economical bowler, for his full quota of overs in the sixth and penultimate game yesterday.
“In this particular game, Bhuvi bowled only one over in the slog. Shami, he is someone who is bowling really good yorkers in the nets. Even in the last game he was bowling good yorkers. So we thought maybe with a bit of pace and a bit of reverse swing, he will be a better bowler. Once he went for runs, we thought let us try some other spinners.
“The boundaries are big over here, they may exploit the boundaries. Once everybody went for runs, then we called Bhuvi. So yes, maybe that was a mistake, we should have tried him. By the time his turn came, there weren’t many overs left.
Maybe a genuine mistake but we will have to see.”
Dhoni praised Virat Kohli’s stupendous batting in the series.
“Virat has grown as a player. He is someone who is very confident and we gave him opportunity and he grabbed it. He loves to perform and keep performing, especially the way he batted in this particular game, he made it look easy.
”It got a bit difficult at the end, with the kind of soil colour, it is difficult to sight the ball. And there was a bit of reverse swing for their fast bowlers but still, the way he batted with ease, it was fantastic.
”He has got aggression, he has to control it which he is doing brilliantly. He is channelising it, using it for his own as well as the team’s benefit. He’s an outstanding player, very eager to do well for the team.”
Complimenting Rohit Sharma (79) and his partnership of 178 with Shikhar Dhawan (102), Dhoni said the former waited to get into his groove before opening out.
“It was a very good innings, the reason being he was not able to find gaps initially. When you are scoring 350, at times it is easy to think I have to play some big shots and get a few runs. But he absorbed that pressure and by the time he had finished, he had a decent strike rate. The very important thing was we had wickets in hand,” he said.
“With two openers who spend a bit of time in the middle, it sends a sense of calm in the dressing room. Even today, Rohit and Shikhar, the way they started, you never felt they are looking to chase 350. That’s something that’s really good.
It gives a calm and composed dressing room and it helps you get used to the pressure and helps you know where you need to work so you can achieve the target.”
Dhoni defended the move to play three spinners — R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra — and all of them proved expensive, giving away 64, 68 and 78 runs respectively.
“Here, the wicket is flat but boundaries are big. If somebody is looking to hit the spinner, they have to go over the fielder which creates a bit of a chance. We said (to ourselves) this is one venue where we could afford to put in that extra spinner.
“Also, in the last few matches, our fast bowlers didn’t complete their quota. Here we felt was one venue where we could play three spinners, it was difficult to play with three spinners in other venues because of the dew.”
But Dhoni was not sure when asked whether they bowled poorly.
“I don’t really know because we too chased down the target. I don’t know exactly what to say. They played a lot of big shots. Our spinners bowled well in spells but there was a phase when one over went for 10, a four or a six which spoilt their analysis,” he said.
“But sometimes when you go for a big shot, you can also get out and then the whole scenario looks different. I think overall I would be quite happy that we chased down 350 but whether it was a bad performance, I don’t know,” Dhoni remarked.
Dhoni said the change in ODI rules is also stopping the spinners in flighting the ball.
“In Test format, you will always have spinners. In ODIs, the biggest change is the extra fielder coming in. Maybe that’s the reason why the spinners are not really so confident in flighting the ball and deceiving the batsman. That can be one of the reasons.
“But apart from that, there’s not any difference between a T20 format and the ODI format when it comes to the rules.
They have been successful in T20, and there’s no good reason why they can’t be in the ODI format too,” said Dhoni.
The Indian stumper also insisted that Suresh Raina, who has flopped miserably so far, needs to be given more chances to grow comfortable batting at No. 4.
“For now, he will bat at four. There can be a bit of pressure, not to forget it is a new position for him. We have used him so much at No. 5 and No. 6, more often than not, at that position you are 40 for four or five.
“The one thing worse than batting at No. 5 is batting at No. 6 because when you get the opportunity there is a lot of pressure. Sometimes, you only get [to play] 5 or 10 overs and you bat very instinctively. You go for the big shots.
“But if he spends time batting at No. 4, there will be gradual improvement. It is a matter of time and also it’s very important to give opportunities.”