MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni (AFP Photo)

Former Australia batsman Dean Jones has taken exception at the criticism thrown towards MS Dhoni for his half-century in the series opening first ODI against Australia which India went on to lose on Saturday.

Dhoni was heavily criticised for his 96-ball 51 in a chase of 289 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Australia went on to take 1-0 lead in the three-ODI series with a 34-run win.

Jones defended Dhoni’s approach saying the former captain walked in at a time when his team was in a critical phase having lost three wickets inside four overs which required him to dig in and guide the team out of the nervy phase.

“I cannot believe how much criticism MS Dhoni has got about losing the game, and how the press and all the pundits in the world have gone after him,” Jones wrote in his column for The Times of India on Tuesday.

He continued, “Do people actually not understand what it takes to come in when the team is four for three? Number one, you have got to stop the bleeding, and he did that. Number two, he got a shocking lbw decision. And Number 3, at the end of the game with around six overs to go, Australia were worried, mainly due to the efforts of Rohit Sharma and Dhoni.”

Rohit played a valiant knock of 133 off 129 and was out in the 46th over. Jones is also not happy at the criticism of Rohit’s fitness. “And then there’s the criticism that’s been thrown at Rohit saying he’s not fit! The Indian fans are just so hard, so critical,” he wrote.

Jones reckons India have to rein in Australian middle-order in order to draw level in the series at the Adelaide Oval. “What Virat needs to do is stop the Australian middleorder; they have made sure they’ve got guys in the middle who play spin well, particularly (Peter) Handscomb,” he wrote.

Jones though praised Australia for their superb show especially that of young speedster Jhye Richardson whose 4/26 fetched him a player-of-the-match award on Saturday. “Richardson bowled with some real pace and reverse swung the ball; his batting shows that there’s something there and that he may just be a replacement for (Mitchell) Starc in the future,” he observed.