Cuttack: Having slumped to an embarrassing T20 series defeat against South Africa, limited overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said that “one bad performance per year” serves him a timely reminder that one should not use “too much brain” in shortest format.
“On and off, we have seen performances like these in T20s. Every year, we at least have one performance, where we are not up to the mark. Maybe this is the performance and we will play freely in the next games,” Dhoni told mediapersons after losing the second T20 international by six wickets.
Although spoken in a lighter vein, Dhoni did say that not playing freely and over-thinking can complicate matters in T20 cricket.
“I personally feel that I used too much brain in this format. It’s very important I keep myself free and go and play my strokes. Depending on that I play a bit slow initially. In this format, I believe I should play the big shots from the word go irrespective of whatever the scenario is because that’s what this format is all about,” Dhoni spoke about the need to keep things simple.
Asked about batting higher up the order, Dhoni said: “A lot of time when I go into bat, be it the 16th or 17th over or in the fourth or fifth overs when wickets have fallen down, I have the tendency of like let’s go to 130, that will be good score.”
“One of the reasons, why I want to bat up the order is that somebody else takes the responsibility of batting lower down the order, say No 6 which is a very crucial position,” Dhoni defended sending Ambati Rayudu up the batting order.
“Unless they are exposed, you cannot tell who is good at it. We have played a lot of cricket and lot of guys have not been successful at No 6. We have seen them perform well at the top of the order but have struggled lower down.
“Someone has to take the responsibility of batting down.
If I start batting at No 5, at least someone else will take up that responsibility. You need to have it in your back-up plan in the years to come,” said the Indian captain.
Dhoni said that positive aspect of the T20 series is that it will give him options to know what combination can work ahead in the five-match T20 series.
“The good thing with the T20s is that we have played a couple of games and will play one more before the start of the ODIs. We will try to get the most out of it and see what is the best combination for the ODIs.”
While it was poor bowling that was the reason for defeat in Dharamsala, shoddy batting brought about the downfall in Cuttack even as the skipper doggedly defended his batsmen.
“Well, if you see, in the last game, we batted really well. There were two areas we wanted to address, one was the run out and second was not to lose wickets in quick succession,” he said referring to India’s twin run-outs of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
“Unfortunately, if you see, in this game those were the two things that pushed us on the backfoot. There were two instances when we lost wickets in quick succession. The wicket was slightly difficult to start off. We didn’t have enough runs on the board. It’s not a very high scoring game. 140-150 would have been a competitive score.”
On their batting, Dhoni said: “If you see our team, most of our batsmen play quite the same in the T20 and 50-over format. That is what their strength is, all of a sudden we can’t ask people to play the sort of game that is not really their strength.”
“I feel we have been doing well because consistently we have scored par scores and giving par runs to the bowlers to bowl and that is good enough. At times we have seen that we have chased scores that were really big.”
“Not to forget, last time we played Australia in India, there were a couple of times in the series that we had to chase 350 runs. Our strength is playing proper cricketing shots and I feel it is quite good the way the batsmen have responded when it comes to consistency.”
Dhoni also backed his spinners as Ravichandran Ashwin was once again a revelation taking 3/24 despite defending a paltry 93.
“If you see spinners have been our strength. I don’t think there was a lot of assistance for them but they have got the experience to use the bounce and during times when the wicket is keeping low.
“They quickly pick what length to bowl so that it is slightly more difficult for the batsmen to score. I feel that is one of the main reasons why our spinners got wickets in this game also. They have been our strength so there was no doubt that they won’t do well. At times, we get a bit worried when there is a lot of dew during this time of the year.
“We do get venues where we get a lot of dew and that is the time when the toss becomes very vital. It gets difficult for the spinners to bowl especially when it comes to the longer format or if the dew is too much in the shorter format.
“Dharamsala we had the problem of the ground also being small so we couldn’t play with that extra spinner. But overall if you see spinners have been our strength and to some extent we have struggled when the spinners have not done well.”
Dhoni further said with dew in these parts during this time of the year advancing the match cannot be a bad idea.
“I always felt that this time of the year it is more tricky to pick the eleven because of the condition. At times the toss also becomes crucial.
“That is why I always preferred for the game to start a bit earlier so that the dew factor did not have a huge impact on the game. It is not always that you get everything but there are some things that you have to go with.”
The Barabati strip had some cracks and Dhoni said they don’t ask for tailor-made pitches especially in limited overs format.
“We don’t really ask too much when it comes to the ODI and T20I format. The associations prepare the best of the wickets they can and we come and play on those wickets.
“Usually, if you see over here, this is the sort of wickets we have been getting over the last few games. You don’t know whether the wicket is relaid or not, if they got enough chance whether it was rain or it was under the covers etc which all matter at the end of the day when it comes to preparation of the wicket.”