India succumbed to a defeat against Zimbabwe in the first T20I after a disastrous last over for the visitors, and India captain MS Dhoni was reflective in the post-match presentation ceremony and the press conference. He congratulated Neville Madziva for a great 20th over, and was critical of his own players. He said that the shot selection of the batsmen left a lot to be desired, while the bowlers were not hitting the right length.
With 8 runs to get off the last over, and master finisher MS Dhoni at the crease, not many would have given Zimbabwe even the ghost of a chance of pulling off their first win of the tour. However, even with Dhoni taking strike off the last ball, the visitors fell short by 2 runs.
With a boundary required off the last ball, Dhoni failed to connect well enough, and the ball travelled limply towards third man. The foregone conclusion that he would take India to victory with a last ball six did not come to pass. Interestingly, this was the first time Dhoni had been required to bat in the tour. The first sizeable challenge Zimbabwe had mounted, India’s young side could not overcome.
When asked about the last ball, Dhoni said, “Ultimately, the contest is between the bat and ball. I felt the last ball was brilliant.”
Important that youngsters get opportunities on this tour: Dhoni
While Mandeep Singh and Manish Pandey got good starts, they threw their wickets away at crucial junctures. Dhoni spoke about the difference between playing in the IPL and playing for India, speaking about how moments in the national jersey can come back to haunt you much more.
“A lot of wickets were not full-fledged shots, more like catching practice. You may be doing well in the domestic circuit but there is more pressure when you go from India A to India. It's good learning curve for them. There were a lot of errors committed by the batsmen.”
He also suggested that the bowlers being fielded in the match, Jaydev Unadkat and Rishi Dhawan, had disappointed him. Unadkat and Dhawan went for 43 and 42 runs respectively.
Dhoni said, “We were not playing with our first XI in the bowling department. Our lengths were not right.”
While none of the batting or bowling departments are India’s first choice players on this tour, Dhoni’s stressing on the bowling possibly suggests that Dhawal Kulkarni and Barinder Sran will probably be brought back for India’s next match.
Dhoni also said that the Zimbabwe tour was being seen as valuable practice for some youngsters. On being asked why he was not taking more batting responsibility, he said, “If I had to bat up, I could easily bat at four for this team. But what is important is for these youngsters to bat at that number because this is an opportunity for them.”
However, one had to wonder when Rishi Dhawan was struggling to connect bat with ball, if Dhoni had taken more responsibility on his shoulder in the last over, instead of giving a single to Axar Patel, could the result of the 1st T20I have been different?