'Bowlers did well in slog overs'

'Bowlers did well in slog overs'

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni saw sparks of improvement in his team’s death bowling despite conceding 321 runs in the first one-dayer against the West Indies at Kochi on Wednesday, which the hosts eventually lost by a massive margin of 124 runs. 

The amount of runs India conceded might make it look like an irrational observation but it wasn’t so. After conceding 52 runs without taking a wicket in the batting Power Play (36 to 40th over), India kept the West Indians rather silent from the 41st over to the 49th, giving away 66 runs in that nine-over phase. However, the last over of the West Indian innings bowled by Mohammad Shami proved expensive as Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy combined to plunder 15 runs from it. 

Dhoni, however, focused on the larger picture. “Most our bowlers apart from Bhuvaneshwar (Kumar) gave runs. Considering that we restricted them to a total of 321 on this wicket, I must say our bowlers did a decent job. I was quite happy with the death bowling and they bowled quite consistently maintaining their lengths and we were able to put fielders in right areas. Overall, I am quite happy with the bowling." 

Dhoni opted to bowl first keeping in mind the effect of dew in the second part of the match. But the afternoon heat in Kochi sucked the energy out of his bowlers, jeopardising his plans. “It was very hot. I felt the fast bowlers got a bit tired, and I would have loved to bowl them for a few more overs. But they were in quite a bad state. I was not really able to rotate them to keep them fresh. Once Mohit (Sharma) went for runs, I had to bring back (Mohammad) Shami. I couldn’t really rotate them well, and it was difficult for them to bowl long spells,” said Dhoni. 

The Jharkhand man also admitted that regular fall of wickets hampered India’s chase that started on a strong note as openers Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan added 49 runs in 8.4 overs. But the run out of Rahane triggered a collapse of the top-order as India slumped to 134 for six in the 29th over. 

“We couldn’t get too many wickets with the new ball. There were quite a few play-and-misses, but unfortunately, they didn’t nick any to the slips. In the middle overs, I thought we did quite well. They were hitting the big shots, but still we were able to put pressure on them by not letting them take the easy singles. Because of that, we realised that they won’t get anything in excess of 340. I felt 320-325 was a par score on a wicket like this. But we had to get off to a good start, and you’ve to capitalise on the start. We started off really well, but that run out of Rahane started something that we couldn’t really put a stop to. We kept losing wickets after that. Once you’re chasing 320, and you lose wickets at regular intervals, it becomes difficult,” added Dhoni. 

‘Legends helped me’

Samuels, who played the central role in Windies’ victory with an unbeaten 126 and two wickets, dedicated the performance to his coach -- late Roy McLean. “After hitting great form in the CPL, I wasn’t playing any cricket. I was shadowing in the mirror. I lost my coach (McLean) during that period in the CPL, and it was a tough period. He was my coach for more than 20 years. I’ll have to dedicate this innings to him.” 

The Jamaican said that talks with Caribbean legends like Sir Viv Richards and Sir Clive Lloyd helped him. “Way before today’s game, I had a long talk with Sir Clive Lloyd. Even had a long talk with Sir Vivian Richards last night, for about two hours. He is sharing all his knowledge, and I’m just soaking up everything. I’m the kind of person who likes to use a legend and ask him a lot of questions. Because they are not legends overnight, and they must have done something great to be considered legends. Wes Hall is there as well, so quite a few legends that I continue to call. It can only better my game, and better me as a person.”

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