New Delhi: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Sunday said that the new ODI rules may have a role in the continuous no-show of the openers but expects them to adapt to the changed regulations for the good of the struggling team. Now, two news balls are used from each end and the pacers are also allowed two bouncers in an over.
Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag have failed to set a good platform for the middle order batsmen for some time and the latter was replaced on Sunday by young batsman Ajinkya Rahane for Sunday's match against Pakistan. However, the script did not change with the replacement as India yet again struggled to negotiate the fiery fast bowling spell of the visitors.
Dhoni said India badly needed its openers to do well with the England series just around the corner. "We have to be a little patient with the openers. The bowling was good and the pitch offered some help. Also with two new balls being used from both the ends, it may be a reason for them not doing well. But we want out openers to do well as we as a team rely on them," Dhoni said after India edged past Pakistan by 10 runs for a face-saving win.
Asked about Sehwag's ouster from the side, Dhoni said it was last minute change to give those players a chance who were on the sidelines. Sehwag has also been dropped from the Indian squad for the first three matches of the five-ODI series against England, starting January 14. Dhoni credited the whole team for Sunday's win and specifically praised the athletic fielding.
"Victory makes you feel good. It was a team effort, fielding was good. We saved about 20 runs and its impact in the games, which are not high scoring, is huge. The fast bowlers gave us the breakthrough and then the spinners did well. Overall it was outstanding fielding, barring a catch that was dropped," he said.
Dhoni wants the side to move ahead in the same vein, saying if everyone contributes a little, it will make an impact to the fortunes of the team. "What's important is that it (win) takes the team forward. Games like these motivates the team. It's not about individual, it takes the team together. What we want that everyone contributes and makes effort. I don't want someone to score a big hundred. But everybody gets a 40 something and a stand of 75-80 would help," he said.
Dhoni said the score they put up on Sunday was not easy to defend. "We should have scored more runs. Initially there was some movement but we should not have lost wickets in the mid innings. 168 was never enough so we did not look at the scorecard but concentrated on the areas we needed to bowl on.
It was disciplined bowling," he said. Asked why R Ashwin was sent ahead of Ravindra Jadeja, Dhoni replied, "For us he is a contributory cricketer. Ashwin is a proper batsman, so we thought if I and Ashwin can have a partnership and then Jadeja can express himself (later on)."
Jadeja actually played a crucial 27-run knock which helped India go past the 150-run mark. Yuvraj was India's hero in the World Cup with a superb all-round performance but he was not used much as a bowler in the current series. Dhoni said it was a deliberate move. "We need to give him some time to adjust to five-bowler theory. He is not suited to bowling with five fielders inside the ring. Let him practice more," he said.
Dhoni also praised young pacer Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, whom he described as someone who is "smart" and knows his "limitations". On a question from a Pakistani journalist, Dhoni said the India-Pakistan matches have become a little soft as sportsman spirit has improved in both the sides.