June 30, 2019 / 7:57 PM / 18 days ago

India blame late Dhoni-Jadhav crawl on slowing pitch

BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni failed to do justice to his reputation as a ‘finisher’ in Sunday’s loss to England but his team defended his display in the final stages of the World Cup group match at Edgbaston.

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - India v Australia - First One Day International Match - Chennai, India – September 17, 2017 – India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays a shot. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

India needed 71 runs from the final five overs to maintain their unbeaten run in the tournament with former captain Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav in the middle.

The duo, however, looked content knocking the ball around rather than going for big hits and managed only 39 in the last five overs.

“When Mahi and Kedar were batting, they were trying to hit (boundaries) but were not able to because of the slowness of the pitch,” Rohit Sharma, who topscored for India with 102, said after the team’s first loss in the tournament.

“Towards the end it got pretty slow. We got to give credit to the English team, they used the conditions very well.”

“They mixed up their variations quite nicely and kept us guessing all through the game.”

Dhoni remained not out on 42 off 31 balls, having hit the only six in the Indian innings, compared to England’s 13.

He made 28 off 52 balls against Afghanistan and against West Indies, the 37-year-old struggled initially before hitting two sixes in the final over to remain not out on 56 off 61 balls.

India captain Virat Kohli then defended Dhoni’s “calculated” approach, saying the wicketkeeper-batsman was experienced enough to know the demand of the occasion.

Kohli defended Dhoni again on Sunday after the team’s 31-run loss to the hosts.

“I think MS was trying really hard to get the boundary,” Kohli, whose fifth half-century in a row went in vain, said at the presentation ceremony.

“They were just bowling good areas. We’ll have to sit down and assess and improve in the next game.”

Jonny Bairstow made a belligerent 111 but it was Ben Stokes’ blistering 79 which propelled England to a commanding 337-7.

The 138-run stand between Rohit and Kohli kept India in the chase but the match slipped through their fingers when hard-hitting all-rounder Hardik Pandya departed after a quickfire 45.

“When you’re chasing 330-340, you need that X factor innings of someone coming and playing that 70 off 30-40 balls. Hardik was looking good but he couldn’t go on,” Rohit said.

“That is something Ben Stokes did for them. He came and batted and changed the game actually. Until then, we were right in the game, restricted them pretty well.

“We needed something like Ben Stokes’ innings towards the end to get to that target.”

Writing by Amlan Chakraborty; editing by Pritha Sarkar

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