Brisbane, Jan 15: A disappointed India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni today called on his batsmen to take additional pressure and score more runs given the insipid performance put up by the team's bowlers in the first two One -day Internationals against Australia.
Dhoni extolled his batsmen for managing successive 300-plus scores but said they need to add at least 30 more runs than what they have put on the board so far. India suffered their second defeat in a row to concede a 0-2 lead despite setting consecutive 300-plus targets for the Aussies.
"You can't win a match only by scoring runs or you cannot score only 280 and say the bowlers have to win the match. Both departments have to improve. Scoring 300 in back-to-back matches is quite tough anywhere, but we have done it in Australia," Dhoni said after India's seven-wicket defeat on Friday (January 15).
"But I feel the batsmen have to take some more pressure on themselves now, and instead of 300, they have to target 330-340. It might happen that in pursuit of that we are all out for 280, but if we want to win comfortably, then we definitely need to score on the higher side," Dhoni added.
Dhoni lamented the "freebies"his bowlers have offered to the hosts in Perth as well as here today and asked them to stop giving easy runs.
"In both the games we have given a fair amount of extras, and that takes that number of runs off the total score. The breeze was also circulating around and that made it slightly difficult for Ishant Sharma. I feel even if we don't cut down the extras, we'll have to score a few more runs. So there are two options, either put pressure on the batsmen by scoring 330 or give them the batting first," said Dhoni.
While Rohit Sharma scored his second successive century, and was aided with fifties from Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, India still only managed to score 75 runs in the last 10 overs. It reduced their score from an intended 330 to 308/8 that proved to be inadequate once again.
"We tried our best to score. I felt they bowled well in the last 10 overs, and it's always difficult because you keep losing wickets. And it's difficult for the new batsmen to come in and straightaway play the big shots," he said.
"I have always said it's one of the most difficult things to do, especially when the bowlers are executing their plans. They were bowling good yorkers and made it more difficult for the batsmen," said the skipper.
"The position we are in right now, we'll have to score more runs and definitely we'll go hard. Today we started our slog earlier, but lost a few wickets. It's always good to have a set batsman in the last few overs, but it won't always happen. That's definitely something in our minds and we applied it also in this game.
"Hopefully in the next game we'll come out and play a bit more freely because we know we have to score runs. Or we win the toss and field first and chase down whatever total they score," he added.
Even so, Dhoni was limited once again in his options for bowling changes once his stock attack started struggling. As such the move to make just the one change comes under the scanner with both Gurkeerat Mann and Rishi Dhawan waiting for their chance.
"We played the first game with the best bowling attack. And Ishant was fit for this game and so we thought he will get good bounce here. It's important to play with the proper bowling set-up. At the same time, you can't neglect the batting also.
"It is difficult for someone like Rishi Dhawan to come in. He may bowl well, but I'm saying it'll be slightly difficult for him because of the field restrictions. He is not somebody who bowls very quick and at the same time, in the middle overs you need to bowl a lot of dots. I feel that's where you have to choose if you're better off playing with a two-spinners combination.
"The only option you are left with is to sit out Ashwin, because Jadeja gives you that option with the batting. We cannot play with six bowlers, because I think playing six bowlers is a bit of luxury to have in cricket nowadays," he said.
India will now have it all to do in the third ODI in Melbourne on Sunday. And they will have only one day to shrug off the defeat. The skipper knows he needs more runs and more wickets, an all-round effort to come back in the series.