The Proteas are more of a momentum team than most others, so the way to peg them back is to snatch the early initiative, which is why despite the poor start here on Wednesday, the Indian captain ruled out a conservative approach at the top of the Indian batting order.
India lost four for 43 inside the first 11 overs to lose any outside chance of chasing down the 290 required for victory. “The intent needs to be positive,” Dhoni replied when asked if India would like to see off the new-ball threat and then cash in.
“If you have a loose delivery, you have to score. Otherwise, in the first eight overs, you will have the two batsmen with 10-15 runs to their name. South Africa rely a lot on a good start with both the bat and the ball. They look to get early wickets and wickets in the middle, and they look for wickets in quick succession. If we can defy that, it will be a completely different game.”
Admitting that his team could have done a lot while chasing South Africa’s massive 289 for nine, Dhoni rued the lack of a good start. “It’s important to get a good start,” he emphasised. “We didn’t get the start we needed. If we had a good start and wickets in hand, we would have fancied our chances. The wicket had a little bounce but it was not quick. We had to negotiate the first 10-12 overs which we weren’t able to do.
“The ball didn’t swing a lot. The white Kookaburra ball did a bit but it wasn’t unplayable. At the same time, there was a difference in the way the pitch behaved in the afternoon and the evening. There was a bit of pace and bounce under lights.”
India left out all-rounder Yusuf Pathan and played the extra specialist batsman in Rohit Sharma. “Because of the conditions in Durban, we thought a specialist batsman would be a better option, that’s why Rohit played,” Dhoni explained.
“He was unlucky to be given out, but that is part and parcel of the game. As a part-timer, Rohit did well, took two for 30 and fielded quite well. Yusuf would have done as well as that, if not better. And of course, you can never really predict a batting performance.”