We need to bat full 50 overs: Dhoni

By Abhishek Roy, IANS,

Ahmedabad:India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni Wednesday reminded his teammates of the importance of batting full 50 overs against defending champions Australia in Thursday’s cricket World Cup quarterfinal here.

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Against England and South Africa, India failed to capitalise on a good start and paid heavily for not being able to play the full 50 overs. The England match ended in a tie and India lost to South Africa by three wickets.

India also could not play the full 50 overs in their last league match against West Indies and collapsed after a good start.

Dhoni said his players cannot afford to commit the same mistake against Australia in the knock-out stage.

“It’s an important game for us. It’s a knock-out game and I won’t categorise in any other way. In all the games we were in a position to accelerate the scoring and get as many runs as possible. I think that was one of the main reasons why we lost wickets the way we did.

“Of course, you need to accelerate, but when you lose 2-3 wickets you need to curb your instincts and focus on batting out 50 overs. Instead of looking to get 40 runs (in powerplay), you should look to get 20-25 runs which may really count at the end of the day,” said Dhoni on the eve of the match at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera.

Dhoni admitted to India’s vulnerability in batting powerplay and hoped that against Australia the team would come good.

“Everybody has a role and responsibility in the side. The top order has batted really well and it means that the lower order is getting to bat when they are looking to accelerate. Keeping this in mind, I am quite satisfied with the effort. But we have not really capitalised in the slog overs or the second Powerplay. So hopefully in the coming games we can accumulate more runs,” he said.

The failures have put the middle-order under some pressure, but Dhoni wants his teammates to take it as an added responsibility.

“When you are part of the Indian cricket team irrespective of whether you are a batsman or a bowler you are under pressure. You can’t think too much about it. More than the batsmen it is the bowlers who are under pressure,” he said.

Dhoni said against Australia, mental strength would be the key.

“The mental element is very important, but at the same time you have to rely on skills. Ultimately it has to reflect on the field and it’s the skill that really helps you give your best on the field. Of course, you have to be in a very good frame of mind to execute your plans,” he said.

Dhoni lauded his pace spearhead Zaheer Khan for giving the team crucial breakthroughs.

“Yes we rely a lot on him to get us the breakthroughs and he has always responded well. I think the responsibility is with all the players. We have been able to capitalise on the breakthroughs that we’ve got. That’s a big positive for us,” he said.