Everything went according to plan for India at the WACA. The bowlers worked as a unit, put pressure on the Windies batsmen and bundled them out for 182. In the run-chase though on what was thought of as a cake walk, India stuttered. They kept losing wickets at regular intervals and finally for the first time in the tournament, India were under the pump. It required a disciplined batting effort to take India through and it came from their captain who led India to a close four-wicket victory scoring an unbeaten 45. There was a time in the innings when India had lost its top five and wanted Ravindra Jadeja the batsman to show character and play a supporting role to his captain. Jadeja instead lived dangerously, flashed a few and ultimately mistimed a pull and gave away his wicket at a crucial juncture of the match. “I think he needs to improve,” Dhoni said, reviewing Jadeja’s performance of late. “He needs to step up because we have a lot of faith in him. But at the end of the day you can't really play with hope. What you want is actually performance on the field.” (Also Read: Report: India vs West Indies – ICC Cricket World Cup 2015)
Jadeja last scored a half-century against England in 2014 at Leeds. Since then he has had a few single digit scores, some of them unbeaten because of the match situation he has walked in to. But when the team required him to stay for long and carry his bat through the innings, Jadeja did fail. Dhoni expected him to buck up and tackle the obstacles ahead of him.
“Jadeja has the capability. You don't get three triple hundreds in India just because you know how to bat. He is definitely talented but he needs to keep believing in himself. Every batsman is tested in a few areas but one needs to find ways to tackle them. Every batsman tackles it in a different way and he will have to find a way how he does it.
“The second option will be we try to give him a platform where he doesn't have to worry about the situation. He could go and freely play his big shots. If he goes to bat close to the 30th over mark, then that's the time when he has to think as to when he will play his big shot or has to rotate the strike. We will have to assess all of that and give him a bit more liberty to play his big shots. That will need a platform from the top order,” Dhoni said.
But does Jadeja’s dismal run mean an open window for Axar Patel in New Zealand? Dhoni instead decided to stress on the batting cushion Jadeja provides lower down the order.
“The problem is the side looks better when we play with two spinners. Even though Jadeja is not performing really well as a batsman he still gives you that comfort if he is at six or seven. Hopefully the spinners have learnt from the last outing in New Zealand. They may not get a lot of turn there, but they can still play with the pace and they can vary their length to a lot of extent. Both the spinners are bowling well and they will hopefully carry the form forward into the next couple of games.”
Dhoni applauded his side’s overall effort thus far and hoped to continue the winning momentum in the tournament. Playing in New Zealand will be different agreed Dhoni but he hoped his players learnt from their previous outing out there. “The conditions will be slightly different. The grounds will be slightly smaller over there. But again, the last tour when we were there, to some extent will help us knowing the condition and the grounds. Hopefully since we have played with the same set of players for a long period now they will remember what needs to be done.”
Despite having four wins under their belt, Dhoni stressed on the fact that it all boils down to one crucial performance in the knockouts. “It will be important how well we play on that particular day, especially going into the knockout stages. I feel all the teams are nicely poised. All of them have the right combination and have clicked well. It is a really balanced World Cup. We just need to keep doing what we are doing right, and take it one game at a time.”