India captain Virat Kohli and batting coach Sanjay Bangar have rued the shot selection of their line-up, saying the batsmen let the team down in their narrow 11-run loss to West Indies in the fourth ODI in Antigua. Chasing 190, India were steered by opener Ajinkya Rahane's 60 and a 114-ball 54 from MS Dhoni. But Jason Holder's 5 for 27, that included four wickets in the last five overs, bowled India out when they needed 14 runs from the last over.
"We bowled really well to restrict them to 189," Kohli said after the match. "Our shot selection wasn't up to the mark, losing crucial wickets at crucial stages. You've got to keep up the momentum through the game. Credit to the West Indies bowlers, they created those dot balls that induced those mistakes. The pitch felt a bit two-paced, apart from that I don't think there was anything else in the pitch. We faltered with the bat and that can happen in this game. We just have to put this behind us and come back fresh for the next game."
Apart from Rahane and Dhoni, no other India batsman in the top five reached double figures as Shikhar Dhawan fell for 5, Kohli for 3 and Dinesh Karthik, who came in for an injured Yuvraj Singh, for 2. In the lower order, too, no batsman crossed 20 as India struggled to get the runs ticking in the middle overs, scoring only 54 between the 21st and 40th overs.
"It (the pitch) kept getting slower and slower because shot-making wasn't really easy and those have been the nature of wickets we have seen so far because, again, we are playing on the same track [we played on] just two days ago," Bangar explained later. "So the wicket kept getting slower and slower, we didn't really bat to our potential because it was a gettable score. I just felt that batsmen let the team down. When Hardik [Pandya] got out it was still run a ball, when Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) got out, it was still run a ball, so in these situations shot selection was really crucial. And at times I just felt that they erred in that.
"Plan was definitely for someone to bat deeper into the innings and that's what Ajinkya did till the time he was given out. Till that time we were really on course and we also lost couple of wickets after Ajinkya, even Kedar got out to a good delivery. Those wickets in the middle overs actually pushed us back and the run rate kept on creeping higher and higher.
"We encountered this situation even in the previous game where we lost couple of wickets in the first 10 overs. But we still managed to get to 260 on a wicket which was very very damp. Suffice to say that we've been playing on some wickets which have been difficult wherein some wickets have been damp. So shot-making was a bit difficult but credit to them that they executed their plans really well. I just felt that it was a very very gettable score."
A lot of questions will be asked of Dhoni's innings, as he brought up his half-century off 108 balls, the slowest by an Indian batsman in ODIs since 2001. Even though he had scored an unbeaten 78 off 79 balls in the previous match, on Sunday he started cautiously to provide some stability after India lost early wickets but failed to see them through by hardly taking any risks. Bangar said it was difficult for Dhoni to play with freedom when the batsmen after him did not give him able support.
"See, you need to assess the conditions. At times you need to play the situations well and when you're batting higher up the order, which MS is doing, and with the kind of depth that we have at No. 6, 7 and 8, and when they don't really come off, he can't play with the kind of freedom that he should. It all boils down to how the batsmen at the other end are also batting and how many wickets we have in hand, because one of our plans is to not lose too many wickets in close intervals and when the wickets fall, we try to rebuild."