Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni made no excuses for India’s 95-run loss to Australia in the cricket World Cup semi-finals but said the fast bowlers could have done “slightly better” and Shikhar Dhawan should not have attempted a big shot when they were going smoothly.
India’s 11-match winning streak over two World Cups came to a grinding halt as the Men in Blue faltered in their 329-run chase and were bundled out for 233 in 46.5 overs.
Electing to bat, Australia rode on Steven Smith’s 93-ball 105 to post 328 for seven in 50 overs and Dhoni opined that the Indian pacers could have bowled better.
“They played very good cricket, over 300 is always a difficult score, I felt it was just over par, they could have had 350. We came back quite well but I felt we still could have bowled better. The spinners performance was good but I feel the fast bowlers could have done slightly better,” Dhoni said in the post-match presentation.
Dhoni’s run-a-ball 65 stood tall amid a disappointing batting show as he waged a lone battle to take India past the 200-run mark and make a match of it despite the steep asking rate.
Shikhar Dhawan (45) and Rohit Sharma (34) started off well with a 76-run opening stand and Ajinkya Rahane contributed with a patient 44 in the middle overs. The Australian bowlers kept getting wickets to keep the Indian asking-rate mounting and Dhoni rued Shikhar’s dismissal.
“We started okay but they bowled well, they got the reverse swing going. We were happy with where we were at the start of the tournament. We got off to a very good start, Shikhar’s dismissal was slightly on the softer side, at a time when we could have had the bowling under pressure. Didn’t really need to play a big shot. But you get pressure chasing 300+, makes you do things you don’t want to do,” he said.
“There was too much (for me to do), our lower order can’t contribute too much in these conditions. Most of the good teams bat quite deep,” he added.
On been asked to comment on his future career path, Dhoni the wicketkeeper-batsman said, “Not sure (about next World Cup), I’m 33, I’m still running, still fit. Next year, T20 World Cup, will be time to decide about 2019 or not.”