x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Dhoni takes a swipe at his batsmen

MS Dhoni, the India captain, has blamed his side's floundering batsmen for the team's poor show that has put the former champions on the brink of an exit from the World Twenty20.

MS Dhoni, the India captain, has blamed his side's floundering batsmen for the team's poor show that has put the former champions on the brink of an exit from the World Twenty20. India have lost both their Super Eight matches, against Australia and the West Indies, and their chances of progressing to the semi-finals are slim. They need a big win over Sri Lanka - by more than 20 runs or inside 17 overs - and then hope Australia inflict a similar crushing defeat on the home side.

Dhoni, however, is not raising his hopes, knowing India have missed out after they were beaten by the West Indies on Sunday night. "We have one more game to go before we leave for India," he said in atelevision interview after the 14-run loss to the West Indies. "So we are hoping to give our best in that game. "In this tournament, our batting has not been up to expectations. The bowlers have done a decent job, given a few overs here and there.

"Overall, we always thought batting is our strength, but in this tournament it has not really paid off except for one game." Dhoni's batsmen seemed to have brought their Indian Premier League form to the Caribbean as they beat Afghanistan and South Africa on the placid pitches of St Lucia. But once the action moved to the quicker and bouncier tracks of the Kensington Oval in Barbados, they struggled to cope with the short-pitched deliveries bowled at them.

Dhoni claims the team had prepared for that scenario, but failed to adapt in match situations. "It's not something that has appeared all of a sudden," he said. "We knew they would use short-pitched deliveries, we practised against short-pitched deliveries in the net sessions, but until you face it in a game, you are not match-aware of what is needed in that situation." Sri Lanka also showed a similar vulnerability against the short-pitched balls in their whopping 81-run defeat to Australia on Sunday.

That loss, coming after the win over the West Indies, has made this match a crucial one for last year's finalists. They have to win the game to qualify for the semi-finals. "We've put ourselves in a bit of a hole, but we have one more game to win and hopefully we can do that," Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain, was quoted as saying on Cricinfo. "The match against India; we are going to win it. That's how we are going to look at it. We've got one win and West Indies have a win. We have got everything to play to try to get into the semi-final."

* Compiled by Ahmed Rizi India v Sri Lanka, 9pm, CricOne