CENTURION // MS Dhoni, the India captain, has blamed his team’s fragile batting for the one-day series defeat in South Africa.
India, set 268 to win in 46 overs, lost the final one-day match by 33 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method after crashing to 119 for eight at Centurion yesterday, losing the series 3-2 after being 2-1 ahead.
“The batting department has not been good and that was the main reason we lost the series,” Dhoni told reporters. “We should have got 268 today. Batting has been a difficult task in this series. We weren’t really able to see a prolonged slog because of the wickets that had been lost."
Dhoni said some of his batsmen had not had enough quality practice sessions.
“But they are experienced players and, playing 30-35 ODIs a year, they are used to handling up-and-down form. So I’m hopeful it won’t be the same at the World Cup.”
Yusuf Pathan blazed 105 off 70 balls for India. They looked out of the game when he walked to the crease thanks to some ruthless bowling from Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn aided by some poor shot-making from the tourists.
Dhoni said he was confident India would be able to chase down any total at the World Cup. “One of the biggest positives is that we showed that we can chase anything in the last 10 overs if we have wickets in hand and guys like Yusuf down the order,” he said.
Earlier, Hashim Amla carried his bat in an unbeaten 116 to see the hosts reach 250 for nine in 46 overs. Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, said his team would take confidence into the World Cup.
“It will be very different. Jacques Kallis will be back and it will be batting-friendly conditions, so it follows that we’ll be looking at different combinations. But it’s nice to have confidence and some momentum when we step on to the plane,” Smith said.
Smith, who will lead South Africa for the second time at a World Cup, said his side had been battle-hardened by their thrilling series against India.
“When we were 2-1 down, we were under pressure and needed to play well. It was hard cricket, we needed to be at our best to win and that’s what you want ahead of the World Cup,” he said.
The World Cup starts on February 19 with India playing Bangladesh at Mirpur, Dhaka. The 1983 champions are in the same pool as South Africa, along with England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and Holland.