Fifties from Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb saw the Aussies post 288-5 on a sluggish Sydney pitch before the hosts’ new-ball bowlers Jason Behrendorff and Jhye Richardson reduced India to four runs for three wickets. Rohit scored a superb 133 from just 129 balls but got support only from Dhoni – who laboured to 51 from 96 balls – as the Aussies prevailed by 34 runs.
Ambati Rayudu (0) has been India’s No4 batsman for some time but he has yet to make the spot his own. After the match, Rohit said what many outside the team had been talking about for a long time – Dhoni is not the lower-order finisher he once was and needs to bat at number four as some other power hitter comes lower down.
“Personally I fell, Dhoni batting at number four will be ideal for the team. But we have got Rayudu who has done well. Depends on what the captain and coach are thinking. Personally speaking, I would be happy if he bats at number four,” Rohit said on Saturday.
Since Rohit has captained India in Virat Kohli’s absence – leading the team to the Asia Cup win in UAE – his views carry weight.
Dhoni scored at barely three runs an over and that meant that even though Rohit scored at more than run a ball, India were all but out of game at the halfway stage. However, Rohit defended Dhoni’s slow rate of scoring.
“MS’s overall strike rate is about 85-90. When he came out to bat, we had lost three wickets. We had to respect that spell. We wanted to get partnerships. Sometimes you have to grind it out. When the bowlers are disciplined, it’s not easy for batsmen to go and start hitting.
“We wanted to get partnership. If we had lost a wicket then, the game would have been dead. Wanted to take the game forward. Hence we had to play dot balls,” the batsman added.
Rohit said performances like the ones in Sydney show India have a long way to go as the World Cup draws closer. “International cricket is all about absorbing pressure. Today was the perfect example when we were put under pressure and we weren’t able to absorb it.”
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