Monday, June 29, 2009

We misread the pitch - Dhoni

India's poor batting display in their eight-wicket defeat in the second ODI in Kingston owed to a misjudgment on the part of their batsmen about the pitch, MS Dhoni has said. Dhoni played a captain's innings of 95, which rescued his team from a hopeless situation at 82 for 8, but proved woefully inadequate in the face of an attacking opening stand of 101 led by West Indies captain Chris Gayle.

"We should have paid a little more respect to the bowlers," Dhoni said after the game. "The wicket was a bit difficult, it was swinging around a bit. We didn't judge the wicket well and just went around playing our strokes which really brought our downfall."

Dhoni was involved in a 101-run stand for the ninth wicket with RP Singh, who chipped in with a valuable 23. It was the fifth instance of a ninth-wicket pair putting on a century-partnership, and it saved India's blushes after they were in danger of being bowled out for under three figures. "Once you lose too many wickets then the only thing that you are doing is catching up. RP and me had a partnership otherwise it would have been quite embarrassing," he said.

India's top and middle orders were blown away by some disciplined bowling from the West Indian seamers, led by Ravi Rampaul, who finished with a career-best 4 for 37. India were in trouble as early as the second over, when Rampaul dismissed Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma in a space of three deliveries, and West Indies retained the advantage for the remainder of the game.

India's failure at the top, Dhoni believed, was decisive in their inability to post a challenging score, as the pitch had eased out by the time West Indies began their chase. "Later on, the wicket became better for batting," he said. "When you are batting first, initially you expect the wicket to do a bit and it is the first half an hour and after that you can capitalise if you get up a good start."

While Yuvraj Singh was at the crease India were in a position to fight back hard, but Dhoni added that reliance on just one individual - Yuvraj made a century in the series opener - was not going to win them matches. "Yuvraj is the man in form, he is getting the run for us but we can't expect one individual to score in one and every game.

"You can't expect to bowl the opponent out within 180, especially on a wicket like this. We just wanted to make it difficult. As long as we can stay on the wicket and make it difficult for them to score runs, that was the motivation."

His opposing captain Chris Gayle was full of praise for the fast-bowling duo of Rampaul and Jerome Taylor, who set the stage for the series-levelling win.

"It is nice to square the series. There were some good performances from the guys," he said. "Rampaul and Taylor set the game for us and from now we will look to go strength to strength. There was moisture in the wicket and Taylor and Ravi utilised it well, and the catching was also good, so we just need to keep working on our game."

The West Indies selectors have retained the current squad for the remaining two matches. The teams get a four-day break before the third ODI at Gros Islet on Friday.

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