REUTERS – India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni lamented a “very bad day” for his spinners after the tourists failed to defend a big total on a docile Perth pitch in the five-wicket defeat to Australia in their opening one-day international on Tuesday.
Injuries to fast bowlers Mohammed Shami and Mohit Sharma have blunted India’s attack for the five-match series and on the eve of the first contest, Dhoni spoke of the need for someone to step up to the mark if one of his bowlers had an off day.
Dhoni had also banked on his frontline spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja using a tight line to prevent the Australian batsmen from scoring freely as they chased down a target of 310 for victory.
However, both spinners were powerless to prevent Steve Smith and George Bailey from blasting vital hundreds as they stitched together a 242-run stand for the third wicket that took the match out of India’s hands.
“When I was speaking about sharing the load yesterday, I was speaking about when the fast bowlers don’t have a very good day then I will have to use the spinners,” said Dhoni, who retired from the test arena at the end of 2014.
“I never thought it will be the spinners who will have a very bad day and the others will have to share that responsibility,” he added.
“It’s a tricky one. If you see the bowling department, the fast bowlers did a very good job; it was the spinners who could have bowled better if they could have just avoided the easy boundary deliveries.”
Debutant fast bowler Barinder Sran gave India, who tallied 309 for three batting first, an ideal platform by dismissing both Australia openers cheaply to reduce the hosts to 21-2.
But Bailey (112) and Smith (149) then shut the Indians out with off-spinner Ashwin, who picked up two wickets at the end of Australia’s innings, and Jadeja going for 129 runs in their 18 overs.
Dhoni tried part-timer Rohit Sharma too, but the off-spinner gave away 11 runs in the only over he bowled.
The Australian duo picked up singles and twos with ease and the occasional boundaries kept their required run rate well under control as India failed to exert any pressure.
“I think they batted really well,” Dhoni said of the opposition. “They played a few big shots but other than that, they were rotating (the strike) well and they were still getting more than six an over.
“That was an area where there was a lot of pressure on us because the spinners also went for quite a few boundaries. I felt that was a phase where we could have maybe bowled slightly differently.”
(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O’Brien)