Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Friday rued the lack of consistency on the part of his bowlers and said his side could have executed the game plans better in their seven-wicket loss to South Africa in the first T20 International cricket match in Dharamsala. “There were periods where we conceded too many runs. That puts a lot of pressure on the bowlers. Any over above 20, it puts a lot of pressure,” Dhoni said after the match. “Execution is crucial on a wicket like this and outfield like this. We could have done better. We have to encourage the opposition to play false shots and get wickets,” he added.
India scored 199 for 5 thanks to Rohit Sharma’s (106) maiden T20 International hundred but the South Africans chased down the target with two balls to spar, riding on J P Duminy’s unbeaten 68 and A B de Villiers’ 51. Dhoni defended left-arm spinner Axar Patel who conceded 22 runs in the 16th over and also explained why he did not go for part-time slow bowling of Suresh Raina. “Axar does bowl well, whether against right or left hander. I could have gone with Raina, but seeing the conditions it’s quite difficult over here,” said Dhoni. Asked if the 199 for 5 his side scored while batting first was enough, Dhoni said, “We had something close to par, but there was dew, high altitude.” On the umpiring decisions, he said, “Even when we don’t get decisions in our favour, it changes the match.” South African captain Faf du Plessis said that both sides played a good game of cricket. “I think the ball did get a little wet towards the end. But what a great game of cricket, both sides got 200. Great innings from Rohit there at the start. Today was one of those days when the bowlers were under the pump,” he said. Praising J P Duminy, he said, “Great innings from JP, paced it really well and well-supported by Behardien.” Duminy, who was adjudged man-of-the-match, said his knock on Friday was one of his best innings. “Definitely one of my best innings. The way we started the innings was what we wanted in the chase. We batted quite well in the middle and built a good partnership with Behardien,” he said. “We both said we have to take it on, we don’t want to die wondering towards the end. We knew if we could get it down to 10-11 off the last over, we had a good chance. Fortunately enough, the left-armer missed his lengths and gave me an opportunity,” he added. Dhoni praised spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Patel and also defended his choice of the bowlers for the match. “If there is dew that puts pressure on spinners. I think our spinners did bowl really well. If you take that one over out, he (Patel) bowled really well. It happens in T20s if batsman is set even the good bowlers go for runs. He was very consistent with his line and length, I was happy apart from that one over. “Aravind was not a surprise package, he has done well in T20s. Also he gives you variation in bowling being a left armer. It was also rewarding what he has done consistently in T20 format. The wicket did not support him much.” Explaining his decision of leaving out leg-spinner Amit Mishra, Dhoni said, “About Mishra, you have to consider the top-7, where you can fit. Ideally you want six proper batsmen and 7th who can bowl a bit. We are playing five specialist bowlers, all of them are equally good, I don’t see any reason where I can drop one of the spinners and get unless I want to get rid of a specialist spinner.”