Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who broke the Indian record for most consecutive World Cup wins by a captain, insisted he is only as good as his bowlers.
The win against Ireland at Seddon Park was Dhoni’s ninth consecutive since the 2011 World Cup, and he is now one better than Saurav Ganguly’s streak of eight. The record – a staggering 24 straight wins – belongs to Australia’s Ricky Ponting.
In his post-match TV interview, Dhoni played down his personal achievement, saying: “It’s not about milestones. It about India winning and we want to take this forward. That’s the motivation for us.
“It doesn’t really matter what the record is. Definitely, it’s something that every player will be proud of. The last World Cup was thanks to all the team members and the current team also because it’s always a team effort. At the end of the day, we play a team sport, and everybody needs to enjoy it.”
By bringing on left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin as early as the ninth and 10th over, and then Raina as soon as they took the first wicket in the 15th over, Dhoni said he was reacting more to the situation than experimenting.
“I feel it was not much of an experiment,” he added.
“It was more about adapting to the conditions. I saw the wicket was slightly slower, so I used the extra part-time spinner that we have. And Suresh, whenever he has got a bit of assistance, he has proven himself to be a proper bowler.
“It was good. He also got a proper bowling spell of 10 overs. So I felt it’s not experimenting, it’s more about using the resources that we have.”
When pointed out that the team did not seem to take their rivals lightly, not only by chosing the same playing eleven as the last match, but also by retaining the same intensity, Dhoni said: “We’re highly motivated. If it comes to the points, we have qualified for the next stage, but still, it was a challenge in itself because the traveling issue that we had. A lot of boys didn’t get enough sleep before this game traveling from Perth because of the time we landed.”
William Porterfield insists two of the biggest weaknesses of Ireland – batting against spin bowling and the ability of their own bowling attack – could only be addressed if they get better exposure in international cricket.
Ireland were doing extremely well against India’s pace attack, before floundering against the spinners. And then, defending a target of 260 runs, none of bowlers looked like making any impression on the high-class batting line-up of India as they raced to victory in just 36.5 overs.
Porterfield said: “I think exposure is a big thing. You probably heard me say it a thousand times, but we have played nine ODIs against the top eight teams in the last four years in between World Cups, which is not a lot when you consider a lot of countries are playing 25, 30-plus a year.
“So that’s disappointing from our point of view to not get that experience and get those games under our belts. I think the skill factor is there.”
Porterfield admitted Ireland did slow down when spin was introduced, but said it was part of a plan. However, the plan did not succeed as they kept losing wickets.
“I think we did slow down,” said the captain. “But you have to give a bit of credit to Ashwin and others…they bowled very well.
“We could have put them under a bit more pressure, but we didn’t want to go too hot too soon after losing those couple of wickets.
— peter johnston (@petejohnston79) March 10, 2015
“I think we picked up a bit of momentum coming down to the Powerplay, but every time we did that, we managed to lose a wicket at crucial times. I think their spinners bowled well and we managed to lose those wickets at crucial times which slowed us down.”
Porterfield said the team is looking forward to what is now turning to be a do-or-die match for them against Pakistan in Adelaide on March 15 as far as qualifying to the quarter-finals is concerned.