Bowling has been a concern for Team India
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni believes that India's inconsistent bowling, especially in the death overs, is a big issue for Team India as they head into the third and final ODI, writes Harish Kotian.
It was back to basics for Team India as they toiled it out in the nets ahead of the third and final One-Day International against Australia at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Goa, on Saturday.
The hosts have taken an unassailable 1-0 lead in the series but were not taking it easy in the nets, with the fast bowlers trying to find their rhythm ahead of Sunday's match.
The pacers suffered in the death overs in the second match in Visakhapatnam as they conceded 84 runs in the last five overs.
And, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted it has been an area of concern for the team for the last couple of seasons.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni at a practice session in Margao on Saturday
'Our bowling needs to be consistent'
"The last ten overs have always been a big concern for us. This is not a worry that cropped up in the last 2-3 months; we have been bothered by this for a long time now, for over one-and-half years. We have done well in between but we have really not been consistent.
"There are still some areas where we can improve and the end result will depend on those 5-6 overs. If you give 20-25 extra runs it will become really difficult to score them because if you are chasing a total of 290-odd, it means that you have score at six runs per over from the start. It becomes difficult when bowlers bowl a few good overs and the rate keeps on mounting. So it is an area where we need to improve and we are putting a lot of effort. We have achieved the desired result but we have not been consistent with it," Dhoni added.
Image: Ashish Nehra
Dhoni credits team contribution to success
The skipper was all praise for his team and said they were performing consistently since the start of the Test series against Australia.
"I personally feel we have done well in the Test series also, not only the batsmen and bowlers, but the part-timers also contributed.
"The lower order batsmen stood up to the task when needed and at the same time the youngsters grabbed the opportunities thrown at them. Unfortunately, a three-match ODI series is not enough but at the same time we try to get the most out of it. The first match was a washout, the second game we won and hopefully the third game will happen and we will try to get the most out of it," he said.
Image: India's Praveen Kumar (centre) bowls as teammate Yuvraj Singh (left) and Virat Kohli look on during a practice session at Margao on Saturday
'There are people who can fill the gap at number three'
Though he was dismissed for a duck on his ODI debut, Dhoni announced himself with a blazing century (148 off 123 balls) against Pakistan in Visakhapatnam in April 2005.
Incidentally, Dhoni was promoted to number three in that match, a role that he has done sparely in ODIs but with great success whenever assigned. The right-hander boasts of an impressive record of 993 runs in 17 matches at 82.75 with two centuries, batting at the number three position.
"I don't know how many times I have batted at number three but I have done decently well you can say that. There are people who can fill in the gap at number three so if you have the people who can do the job up the order, I can stay down the order and do a good job batting at five or six," he said.
Image: Rohit Sharma during practice on Saturday
'Need experience to finish games'
Dhoni pointed out that the requirement of the team comes first for him and he is content playing the role of a finisher given the experience he has, while giving the number three role to youngsters so they can play with more freedom and flair.
"It is the team that comes first, especially in this side and the set of players that we have got, we have plenty of players who can do what I have done batting at number three. But batting at number fiver or six you need a bit more experience to finish the games. You can always be more flamboyant. But you need experience to take the team right through the end. I think, maybe if somebody is groomed and analyses the game really well and is able to bat at number five and closes the game more often than not, maybe I will try before it gets too late to bat at number three," Dhoni said.
Image: R Ashwin
'Raina has done a good job for us'
The captain also showered rich praise on Suresh Raina, who has been unstoppable in the recent few months courtesy of his batting prowess in all formats of the game.
"The important thing is the rate at which he is scoring runs and he has been like a floater for us. Normally he bats at number 5 or 6 depending on the situation and more often than not he scores at a brisk rate. He is also a very good fielder. It is always good to have excellent fielder in the side, someone who can give you a run out apart from saving those crucial runs.
"He can also bowl a bit. If we are playing four bowlers, his role becomes very important because part-timers more often than not bowl ten overs. So you can say it provides some cushioning when it comes to selecting four bowlers and having a look at the part-timers at the same time. He has done a good job for us whenever he has got a chance at number three, number five or number six or any other position. It is a good sign for us and I hope he can keep scoring," he said.
Image: Australia's Tim Paine (left) takes a catch as teammate Cameron White looks on during a practice session in Margao on Saturday
'When you represent your country you don't need to motivate yourself'
Despite so much of playing and practice time lost out to rain, Dhoni said it is not difficult to motivate himself and the players.
"When you are representing your country you don't need to motivate yourself. At times your focus tends to shift when it's raining so much because you don't get time for practice or your schedule gets shifted. It is important to be focused and still do things that need to be done so I don't think motivation is a problem," he said.
Image: Australia's captain Michael Clarke (centre) leaves a practice session with his teammates in Margao on Saturday