'We have had two batting failures'
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni defended his woefully out-of-form batsmen, saying the team just needs one individual spark of brilliance for the entire line-up to click in Wednesday's must-win tri-series match against New Zealand.
"You want one batsman to play a big innings in all games, whichever the batsman may be, especially on these kind of wickets. It can be termed as individual brilliance because you have one batsman batting through and the others batting around him," Dhoni said, at Tuesday's pre-match press conference.
"It's more about the mindset, because in one-day cricket you're so used to going after and hitting the bowlers right from the first delivery. It's not only in the subcontinent; throughout the world you see wickets are a lot flatter now, especially for the one-dayers," he explained.
"If you talk about the batting collapses, it's happened twice in three games. But if it is said that this is the batting strength of our side, I won't agree with that. One thing we can't deny is that we have had two batting failures and we have to rectify the problem, get on the wicket and try to score some runs," he added.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni examines the pitch for Wednesday's clash against New Zealand
'The key is playing steadily for at least 20 overs'
Dhoni said the key to success on the pitches in Sri Lanka is to play steadily for at least 20 overs before cutting loose.
"To give respect to the bowlers for the first 10 overs, and the next 40 overs is yours. This is one of those venues where you have to prolong the respect for bowlers by another 10 overs. If you don't lose too many wickets for 20 overs, then you can really dictate the bowlers and can have your own game plan set after that," he said.
The crushing previous defeats to New Zealand (by 200 runs) and Sri Lankan (by eight wickets) have been hard to take, admitted Dhoni, but insisted that the team can recover.
"As a team, we are disappointed about it. But if you see, all the matches have been one-sided, which suggests if you lose too many wickets early, there is a big batting collapse. We have seen it happen throughout the tournament," he said.
"The batsmen are trying to work out their plans as to what needs to be done. They are not getting out to rash shots. They are trying to battle through and there are times when you can't do that. That's what happened in the last two games when we had batting collapses. So at the end of the day, when you are in the middle, you just have to find a way as to how you can get the runs because the pressure keeps on mounting," he added.
Image: Virender Sehwag (centre), Munaf Patel (left) and Yuvraj Singh go through a catching practice session
'Hoping Rohit scores some big runs'
On the dreadful form of Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja, Dhoni said the duo may be struggling right now but both have proved themselves to be match-winners in the past.
"You have to see the strength. What kind of stability one brings into the side. Especially, if you see Ravindra Jadeja, if you see his bowling performance in the past one-and-half years, he had quite a few bad games in between, but, overall, a majority of games he has bowled really well.
"His batting has dipped down but if he can contribute with the bat, he is the option with whom we can play with five bowlers. He is literally our fifth bowler who has done well for us unless you can find an all-rounder who can bowl 10 overs for us," he explained.
"Rohit, I think, it's a tricky situation for him. Always in and out of the side. There's a pressure when you are always in and out of the side. He was unfortunate to get out once when he didn't get the umpire's decision in his favour. So two innings, I don't really think is good enough to decide whether a player is good or not. But of course, he is working hard. We are just hoping he comes up and scores some big runs," he added.
Image: Rohit Sharma
'Team has done well in adverse and difficult conditions'
On former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram criticism that the youngsters in the team are too spoilt and soft, Dhoni said the he wasn't aware of such comments but just a couple of bad performances should not invite such remarks.
"I don't know what Wasim Akram said. For me, what's important is how the team is shaping up. If you talk about the team being soft, they have done really well in adverse and difficult conditions. Whether it's in Australia or the Twenty20 World Cup or some of the other tournaments where we were not at our best," he pointed out.
"Even in the Asia Cup, we did well with the youngsters. So I don't think you should be clever enough to make a statement based on three or four games. It's the overall picture that you set. I think the guys are courageous enough to go through any conditions or situations thrown at them.
"We are on the backfoot right now, with the conditions maybe. But these are the boys who will ultimately be part of the Indian cricket team now or sometime later," he added.
Asked whether India would consider going in with seven batsmen to strengthen the fragile-looking line-up, Dhoni said packing more willow-wielders is no guarantee for huge scores.
"That's definitely one of the options but again you have to see whether in these conditions we can bowl well with the part-timers because if we let them score to many runs, it becomes difficult to chase. At the same time, it may be difficult to contain them if they are chasing.
"We have to strike a balance but if the team feels the need to have additional specialist batsman and we can play around with the part-timers, we can look at that. But as I say, it's more like a gamble and you have balance the positives and the negatives of having an individual in the side," he said.
Image: Ravindra Jadeja (left) and R Ashwin await their turn to bowl in the nets