With the series already decided at Edgbaston in India’s favour, England earned a consolation win in the last ODI at Headingley, beating India by 40 runs. (Also Read: Joe Root century sets up win for England)
In the end, India took the series 3-1, owing to some brilliant individual performances by the likes of Suresh Raina and Ajinkya Rahane, combined with the perfect team effort in the field and with the ball in the previous three ODIs. (Also Read: Stats Highlights: England vs India, 5th ODI)
At the end of the series, captain, MS Dhoni was a pleased man. He was satisfied with where his team stands just months away from the 2015 World Cup but also pointed out the areas where he would like to see improvement leading up to their world champions title defense.
“There were many positives that came out of this series and we will have to take them forward in the coming matches leading up to the World Cup,” Dhoni said. “The intensity on the field was very good throughout the series – we held on to excellent catches, the ground fielding was good and we got some fine run-outs as well.
“We knew it would be important to bowl well with the new ball which I thought we did consistently. Our bowlers were not tested in the death overs in the first three ODIs, but they were today. It was a good sign the way Shami bowled but we need a couple of more fast bowlers who can execute their plan well and stick to it even if the batsmen score runs off them,” he said.
Shami earned his skipper’s praise with his fine execution of yorkers in the death overs. Dhoni said it was something that the other bowlers can pick from him.
“His execution was very good, something that is lacking in some of our other fast bowlers. He was very good with the yorkers and bowled them every time I asked him to. I was definitely impressed with him.”
Dhoni further stressed the important of yorker in the last 10 overs, saying it is one of the toughest ball to get right in a match situation.
“A yorker is a very simple ball but it is one of the most difficult ones to execute,” he said. “It takes a lot out of a bowler to bowl a yorker at good pace, especially with the third man and fine leg inside, as the batsman may look to play the ramp shot or the scoop. You have to be aware of the field and what the batsman is looking to do. Most of the successful death bowlers are still the ones who bowl the yorker well,” the Indian captain said.
Dhoni also said the importance of tight death bowling has gone several notches higher with the new ODI rule that requires the fielding team to have an extra man inside the circle. He singled out that aspect as an area for the team to work on.
“Slog bowling is something we would like to improve as a team. The conditions we will face in Australia and New Zealand (during the World Cup) will be very different. The grounds in New Zealand are not very big, which means you cannot use the spinners too much after the 40th over. The fast bowlers will have to stand up and take more responsibilities there and it’s very important that they do well in the coming games.”
The skipper also called for an overall consistency from his team in the next six months. “We will have to be consistent,” he said. “There have been quite a few rule changes since the last World Cup. Earlier, if you didn’t have power in the lower middle order, you would feel the pressure. But now even if you don’t have that power you can exploit that extra fielder in the circle.
“Even the best of fast bowlers bowls with a third man or a fine leg. That requirement of slogging in the death overs has been taken away from cricket with the new rules. I still prefer batsmen like Raina who score quickly but still play authentic shots. The sweeps and reverse sweeps look good when they come off but they are high risk shots.”
A common trend of late in Dhoni’s ODI captaincy is most of the times when he wins the toss, he elects to field first. Dhoni said India have become good at chasing totals over the years but he wants his boys to be ready for any scenario in any conditions.
“We have historically been a side who likes to put runs on the board and when the opposition chase it down, we blame the bowlers,” he said.
“In the last few years we have changed that. We have chased pretty well irrespective of where we have played. At times, we haven’t put up a lot of runs batting first but we have chased well consistently. But we can’t say we are comfortable only chasing or batting first. We have to be able to adapt ourselves according to the wicket, opposition and weather conditions.”