Mahendra Singh Dhoni put the blame on his batsmen after India came up with yet another below par performance against South Africa in the second ODI at Durban on Sunday, losing the match by 134 runs.
The Proteas, who were sent in by Dhoni once again, rode on centuries from openers Hashim Amla (100) and Quinton de Kock (106) to post a total 280/6, before bowling out the visitors for a meager 146 in 35.1 overs. The hosts also clinched the three-match series with the win at the Kingsmead.
India had lost the first ODI at Johannesburg by 141 runs. Dhoni had blamed the fast bowlers for that defeat, after the South African batsmen took the tourists' pacers to the cleaners, posting a mammoth total 358/4. However, the bowlers put in a much better performance this time around, restricting the hosts to 280.
Dhoni appreciated the bowlers' effort and insisted that the target was achievable. However, he pointed out that the Indian top-order batsmen threw away the wickets by playing some poor shots.
"If you talk about this particular game, I think the kind of shots we played, a few of them were on, but the execution was not great to some extent as they went to the fielders. But compared to the last game, the bowlers did a fantastic job, especially in the middle overs. Overall, I was very happy with the bowling performance because 280 on this wicket was decent," Dhoni said.
"The wicket was on the flatter side, there wasn't much for the fast bowlers, but I was disappointed with the batting. The SA attack is very accurate and they keep bowling in the same areas and that's what makes them different. Overall, there was not much seam or swing for the bowlers and that's why I say they bowled well. The pitch was a nice one and the target was a decent one, and we didn't execute our plans with the bat," he added.
There is a strong belief in the cricketing world that Indian batsmen struggle against short-pitched deliveries on overseas pitches. However, Dhoni played down the notion and insisted that it was not the reason why India failed in the last two ODIS.
"I don't think it was the short ball. It was more to do with shot selection, the shot execution. This wicket was on the flatter side, and pace was down for the fast bowlers. Also when we go outside people talk about the short-pitched bowling, because they know in the subcontinent we are not really used to this kind of bowling but what we have seen is that you play a few shots and it pays off, then the opposition are in trouble as to where they need to bowl, and that's what really happened in the Champions Trophy," the Indian skipper stressed.
With the back-to-back defeats, India have conceded the series to South Africa. The third and final ODI at Centurion is dead rubber now but Dhoni said he is focused on how India comes back from here, with two Tests following the series.
"You can consider this as a one-off series. It is part and parcel of any series that you play. You win quite a few and you lose quite a few. What's important is that you keep learning, and the bowlers learnt from the first game and bowled better in this game. I think as a batting unit also we need to learn quite a few things, and keep going onto the field," the India skipper pointed out.