MS Dhoni has asked for more patience to be shown with India's inexperienced middle order after they couldn't complete a chase of 261 on a sluggish Ranchi pitch. Dhoni backed the young players to find their own method of finishing games, even if it meant going for big shots, referring to the dismissals of Manish Pandey and Hardik Pandya at a critical juncture. While Pandey lofted a slower ball from Tim Southee to mid-on, Pandya's inside-out strike off Mitchell Santner was pouched by Tom Latham at long-off, and with this wicket India had slipped from 128 for 2 to 167 for 7.
"Cricket has changed, people like to play big shots. It is important to not tell them to stop playing the shots; you don't want them to go into their shells," Dhoni said at the presentation ceremony. "They played their shots when the ball was in their area. The Nos. 5 and 6 are quite new, they will learn their own way. Some will play big shots, some will take it deep. Once they have played 15-20 games, they will figure out what works for them."
Dhoni's post-match press conference was along the same lines; he reiterated the difficulty of batting down the order on such a sluggish pitch. "It's important they get games like these and finally they'll figure out a way what suits them best to chase down a total like this," he said. "Unless they get an opportunity like this it will be very difficult because that's how you get experience. You can learn a lot by watching but ultimately when you feel the pressure and go through that motion, that's where you learn a lot. It will be a good learning curve for them. Give them some time."
Dhoni saw parallels with the defeat in Delhi, and said the loss of wickets in clumps hurt the team. He also hit out at India's profligacy with the ball - they conceded 13 wides in the afternoon. "I think it was the first 10 [overs] where we gave away a lot of runs and the extras," he said. "The wicket was best to bat on in the afternoon, and it kept getting slower and slower. On a wicket like this when the score is not too much - we were not chasing anything over 6.5 or 7 runs an over - you need partnerships.
"Also, you need to realise that with two balls it initially comes on to the bat better and as the game progresses the wicket slows down and the ball doesn't come that well. That's where it becomes difficult to freely rotate the strike."
India's innings received an early jolt after Rohit Sharma was dismissed in the fifth over. But, the chase was kept on track by Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, who put on 79 runs for the second wicket. However, once Kohli was caught behind attempting to cut Ish Sodhi, India's innings fell apart. Dhoni disagreed with the suggestion that India's chases were overly dependent on Kohli.
"If you see the last one to one and a half years, we haven't played a lot of ODI cricket," he said. "In between we had Zimbabwe, we had three games so… I can say that the stats actually don't reflect the exact scenario because also in that period I have batted at a different position and our top order was batting brilliantly. So everything is very different. Just in this series, if you see, there have been a couple of games where the wicket was on the slower side.
"It's when the wickets are slow and when the required run rate is not high, you calculate and at times you play out a few overs thinking if you have a partnership at this moment, with more wickets in hand in the last few overs, you can look to chase down something that's even seven to seven and a half [runs per over]. We have got quite a few batsmen who can do the job. It's just that we have to give them more time. Batting down the order is one of the toughest things to do. You don't get a [ready-made] player who's complete, who bats at No. 5, 6 or 7, all the time."