Dhoni rues lack of big partnerships in defeat

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India captain MS Dhoni blamed the absence of big partnerships for his team’s six-run defeat to New Zealand on a Feroz Shah Kotla pitch that was slow and had variable bounce.

After New Zealand had made 242, India stitched together sizeable partnerships in their chase but lost clumps of wickets on two occasions. First, Ajinkya Rahane and Manish Pandey departed in the space of four balls in the 19th over, and then Dhoni, Axar Patel and Amit Mishra fell in a nine-ball span during overs 40 and 41, with Martin Guptill accounting for the last two of those dismissals in his only over of the match.

“If you see there were quite a few partnerships, but we kept losing wickets after every partnership,” Dhoni said. “When you are chasing a score like this it is important that you need to keep a few wickets because the runs were coming. Even if you need six or seven runs an over in the end it can easily be achieved but our problem was that we kept losing the wickets. In fact in the 41st over we lost two wickets.

“It’s not about one batsman, I felt we lost wickets throughout. Any batsman could have said that had I contributed 10 percent more we would have won the game. So it was the responsibility of the whole batting unit. I felt the bowlers did well.”

Dhoni said the pitch continued to slow down despite the dew, which generally ensured the ball came on to the bat better. “I felt it was best to bat in the day time as the game kept progressing the wicket got slightly slower and slower with a bit of variable bounce,” he said. “Also, if you lose one or two wickets that slows you down to an extent. Then, if you have that partnership and still lose a wicket again, again you have to start from scratch.”

He defended the decision to bowl first and said 242 was a par score on the pitch. “If any of our batsman had batted 15 minutes more we would have won the game,” he said. “The bowlers did well to come back into the game. Initially it was difficult to contain their batsmen and they played some proper shots, not to forget we dropped two catches off [Kane] Williamson. That also has a bit of a bearing. Overall I was happy with 240-245, because that was very much something we could have achieved.”

Dhoni also lauded Jasprit Bumrah‘s ability to bowl inch-perfect yorkers, and said his consistency made him his go-to man, particularly at the death. After a tight spell up front, Bumrah returned to clean up New Zealand’s lower order with yorkers and slower deliveries and finished with figures of 3 for 35.

“Right from the time he began his international career he has always been someone who can bowl yorkers at will, and that’s why he has been someone I can always bank upon,” Dhoni said. “A lot of times I had to see how every bowler is bowling and then decide who will bowl the last few but with Bumrah be it any condition or situation he has always been someone who gives me those last few overs. He practices that way, he has an awkward action. Still credit to him for consistently bowling those yorkers.”

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun

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