Former Indian fast-bowler Ajit Agarkar believes that the slow innings played by MS Dhoni in Sydney did not help India's cause as it put a lot of pressure on Rohit Sharma.
Chasing a target of 289, India lost the match by 34 runs despite a heroic century by Rohit Sharma. India was reduced to 4 for 3, when Dhoni joined Rohit in the centre, but according to Agarkar, his innings of 96 balls at a strike rate of 53 did not help India's cause.
"Yes, tough situation to come in when you are three down with four runs on the board. And you could argue that the first 25-30 balls, you've not been here. But once you are set. I mean Rohit can get 288 all by himself. There has to be a support from the other end. And not from someone who is striking at 50 when he finishes after 100 balls. And, 100 balls are a lot of deliveries in one-day cricket," Agarkar told ESPNCricinfo.
Needed to accelerate in the middle overs
Agarkar said that after a jittery start a cautious approach was expected but then Dhoni should have upped the ante in the middle overs which could have helped India's cause.
"You can argue for the first few deliveries because the pressure is on and you don't want to throw your wicket. But eventually, you need to do what the team requires you to do. And if you are not doing it then you got to worry about whether the person is good enough to do it or not. Yes, he got a fifty but even then it was fifty off like 100 balls. That wasn't helping Rohit at the other end," Agarkar said.
The Indian selectors dropped Rishabh Pant for this ODI series and many have questioned this move. Harbhajan Singh has called for the inclusion of Pant in the middle order, even as a regular batsman.
"I think Rishabh Pant is a must in the Indian team because if we lose three early wickets, we need to have a power-hitter lower down the order. I think his inclusion will not only strengthen India's batting line-up but also fix the middle-order issues," Harbhajan told India Today.