Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was pleased with the way his top-order performed in the seven-match ODI series against Australia but said the team’s death bowling needs improvement.
Rohit Sharma smashed his way into the record books with a stunning 209 as the Indian cricket team provided the perfect Diwali gift to the nation with a 57-run victory in the series-deciding final ODI to clinch the rubber 3-2 in Bangalore on Saturday night.
“We have to improve in bowling, something we wanted to do on a team level also. We have chased 350-plus twice but nobody talks about Australia’s bowling line-up. But we need to improve our death bowling,” Dhoni said after the match.
The 26-year-old Sharma gave a breathtaking display to power India to an imposing 383 for six before the hosts bowled out Australia for 326 in 45.1 overs at the jam-packed Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Dhoni said: “There was a moment when we were under pressure after losing 2-3 quick wickets. It became a little difficult and we wanted to score 300 and explode from there. 383 wasn’t on our mind but Rohit batted very well.
“This ground has the reputation for batsmen hitting more sixes than fours, especially when you see (Chris) Gayle and Virat (Kohli) batting in the IPL. It’s difficult to contain the batsmen here.
Talking about India’s willow-wielders, the Indian skipper said, “Our Batting has been fantastic, openers have done very well but it would have been good if middle order got a few more runs. Apart form the one game, we scored in each and every game.
Dhoni also praised the crowd that had turned up in large numbers in all the seven venues.
“It has been a fantastic series overall, Australia played very well and the wickets were good. Not all the venues were in metros but the amount of crowd that came was fantastic.”
Man of the Match and Series, Sharma said he was not aware that he had broken the record of maximum sixes with 16 hits.
“I didn’t know about the 16 sixes record but I am glad to have done that. I didn’t really think of the 200 initially.”
Sharma said the key was to stay there in the middle.
“Right from ball one I wanted to stay there. It was a small ground with a fast outfield, we knew it was going to be a big-scoring game keeping the wickets in hand. We always spoke about building small partnerships and we had two big ones today.
It’s been our strength throughout the series so it was heartening to see that.”
Chasing a mammoth total, Australia made a spirited effort with all-rounder James Faulkner blasting a 73-ball 116, the fastest century by an Australian in ODIs.
And Sharma said, “You never know, even 380 wasn’t looking comfortable.”
The Mumbaikar praised his teammates for the victory.
“Credit goes to (Shikhar) Dhawan and Virat (Kohli) as well, they played very well throughout the series, we showed real character. I’m enjoying opening at the moment, just want to keep continuing and want to continue fresh. I’m looking forward to the West Indies series now.”
Australian captain George Bailey felt his team lost too many wickets early in the innings.
“We went pretty close there but outstanding innings from Rohit. We were probably ahead at one point of time but didn’t have enough wickets.
“(James) Faulkner and (Glenn) Maxwell played excellent cameos. We knew it would be tough they are the No. 1 and it’s been a wonderful series.
He said there had been some positives in the defeat for Australia.
“There have been a plenty of positives, the one-day cricket we were playing 18 months wasn’t great and we are on track now,” Bailey said after the defeat.
He also thanked the Indian crowd.
“I thank the crowd. They supported us also though not as much as their heroes.”