MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni said that the pitch in Rajkot became two-paced, which made it difficult to play the big shots.Reuters

India bowlers performed well to restrict South Africa to 270 in their allotted 50 overs during the third ODI in Rajkot. The men in blue were expected to chase down the target, as they possess some dangerous batsmen in their lineup; however, India only scored 252 runs from their 50 overs, despite Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli scoring half-centuries.

South Africa, who defeated India in the third ODI by 18 runs, have taken a 2-1 lead in the best of five-match Freedom Series.

MS Dhoni, the India skipper, believes batting became a bit more difficult and the wicket kept getting lower and slower as the match progressed, which caused problems for the batsmen in the second innings.

"I thought 270 was a par score, the wicket kept getting lower and slower and the dew didn't help us out. It became a bit two-paced and become difficult to play the big shot. We are looking for batsmen to play at five, six and seven," said Dhoni.

Skipper Dhoni also decided to reshuffle the batting order and moved Kohli to number three where he played a decent innings of 77 runs. It was a good move to send Kohli up the order, considering the right-hander is one of the best India batsmen when it comes to batting in the second innings.

Though Kohli scored runs at No.3, Rahane, who had batted in the position in the first two ODIs, came in to bat at number six and only scored four runs.

"We are looking to give chances as well so it's a tricky one. Ajinkya Rahane bats well at three but Virat couldn't score, this is something we will have to look at," said Dhoni.

One has to give credit to South Africa bowlers, primarily Morne Morkel, who put up a splendid exhibition of bowling, taking four wickets, including the crucial wickets of Kohli and Dhoni.

It was imperative for Dhoni and Kohli to bat through if India were to win the match on the two-paced pitch, as they had got their eye in, but even they struggled to score brisk runs during the middle overs, primarily from the 32nd over onwards.

It seems South Africa skipper Ab de Villiers, who had won the important toss, was spot on when he opted to bat first. Dhoni also spoke about his preference to bat first had they won the toss.

Dhoni believes that the visitors batted when the pitch was at its best, but the skipper did praise his bowlers for their performance.

"I thought our bowlers did well, maybe a bit more dew would have made it difficult. They batted when the wicket was at its best and they also couldn't find runs at the death," Dhoni added.

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