'Need to play more consistent cricket'

Cricket: One-day series: Indian captain blames poor batting for series loss

How did it go wrong?: Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has every reason to wear a pensive look. AFP

After a few moments of deliberation, Dhoni answered “We need to play consistent cricket for that.”

The on-going one-day series between India and Australia proved the merit of Dhoni’s matter-of-fact statement. The Indians were expected to walk all over a wounded, half-strength Australian side, but the Aussies stunned them winning the series with a game to spare.

The magnitude of the debacle increases manifold considering that the Indians were playing in home conditions in front of supportive public, yet they failed to produce quality cricket consistently.

But is it really the time to perform that familiar act of chopping and adding? The answer is an emphatic no. Agreed, the Indian team is having a not-so-great-run since the World Twenty20 in England, but this is the time to be patient and allow them to learn from recent mistakes. In a way, this series has mirrored all the vices that have gripped Indian cricket of late -- lack of sting in bowling, especially in the case of pacers, wayward batting and lethargic fielding.

The hitch is of all-round nature, but the pitches suited batsmen more and their failures in Vadodara, Mohali and Guwahati were more glaring and dealt a severe blow to India’s chances in the series. Dhoni did not miss the point. “I think we are lacking a bit of consistency in our batting. We haven’t backed the opportunities that we have got. A majority of the batsmen haven’t contributed. In the games where our top order didn’t perform, our middle order also didn’t bat well,” he said.

The problem began from the top as Virender Sehwag did not fire even once in the series while Gautam Gambhir fizzled out after fifties in the first two matches. A strong show from Sehwag was mandatory to put the Australians under pressure, and with the Delhiite failing to build on his starts, the Aussies got a chance to take a peep at the Indian middle-order sooner than anticipated.

“Sehwag is a destructive player and it was lucky that he did not take on us in this series,” Australian skipper Ricky Ponting said.

The Australians wasted no chance to gnaw at the flesh of Indian line-up, and the visitors’ accurate bowling and energetic fielding tied up the opposition batsmen.
Youngsters like Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, who shone with the ball on occasion, proved that they have miles to traverse, and hopefully the youngsters will learn from their mistakes they committed in the series.

However, it was not all lost scene for the Indians. One of the positives for them was the improvement Harbhajan Singh showed as the series evolved. The Punjab off-spinner was a pale shadow of his aggressive, wicket-taking self in the first two matches, leaking runs and struggling with his line.

But when the series reached Guwahati for the sixth one-dayer, the offie showed glimpses of his form that made him the eternal tormentor of Australians, only this time the total was too weak to defend.

Dhoni was happy to see his principal destroyer regaining form and confidence ahead of the series against Sri Lanka, starting in a week’s time. “Harbhajan did not start well in the series, but he is a big match player and as the series went on, he regained his form. Hopefully, he continue in the same vein against Sri Lanka also,” Dhoni said.

Hopefully, the entire squad will take a leaf out of Harbhajan’s book.

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