Centurion:Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni attributed the ODI series loss against South Africa to the batting failure but refused to believe that it will be a cause of worry for his side with the World Cup less than a month away.
"I think our batting department did not do well in the ODIs. That was the main reason why we lost the ODI series. But, hopefully with the World Cup coming up all will be set right," he said at the post-match conference after India lost the fifth and final ODI by 33 runs and the series 2-3.
"Throughout the series our batting department has not scored a lot of runs. It is Virat Kohli who has done well and it's Yusuf down the order who has done well. We really need to perform as a unit.
"But it is a matter of one innings or two and some of the batsmen did not get enough preparation time, quality practice sessions. It always plays in your mind but at the end of the day experienced players have gone through a phase like this. It happens in cricket and especially with us as we play 30-35 ODIs a year. So you see the form going up and down in the year. We are used to deal with situations like this," Dhoni said.
Indian top order collapsed while playing rash shots but Dhoni defended his batsmen, saying it was part and parcel of the game.
"It is part and parcel of cricket. You get off to a start, 10 overs, 28 runs one wicket then you are asked why was there no hurry? At the end of the day we were suppose to chase close to six runs an over and it is always a difficult task. You want to take the opposition on and times you lose wickets and that is what happened in this game," he said.
"At times it really works because if you see Yusuf's innings, he played a few deliveries and then went after the bowlers. He was really successful that's his main strength. In a similar way some of the batsmen played their strokes and got out," he reasoned.
Talking about the positives from the series, Dhoni said, "The full tour was good for both the sides. They won the ODI series, we won the T20 and the Test matches were draw. But overall good cricket was played.
"The biggest positive out of this game when we go to the World Cup the last 10 overs we can chase anything if we have got wickets in hand. I think learning is more than just loss of the game," said Dhoni.
He also felt that bowling at the death had seen a big improvement in the series.
"Bowling at the death, it is a big positive for us. The bowlers have done well with the kind of variation they have got. We don't have express bowlers but we have got bowlers who have got skills. That is what they rely on. In this series it was a very satisfactory performance.
"But both the teams were struggling throughout the series when it comes to the middle order performance which meant that both the teams lost quite a few wickets because of which you were not able to see a prolonged slog from both the sides. That may also be a reason. But if we bowl like this in the World Cup, I will be really pleased," said the Indian captain.
Asked if Yusuf's place has been sealed in the playing XI of the World Cup after his brutal 70-ball 105, Dhoni said, "Well there are other batsmen also. You have Yuvraj Singh who can play a similar innings. You have Yusuf Pathan in the lower order who can again do the same thing. It is important that the asking rate is reasonable.
"Let's see, we still have a few days left. Let's see what the best composition is for that particular game. But he has done really well."
Dhoni defended his decision to field after winning the toss in the final ODI.
"Last time we played, we had a discussion about it more often than not, the Centurion track whatever is there is there initially. After that as the day progresses it gets slightly better and that is what happened in the 2006 series. The wicket was similar, it wasn't not a very different wicket."
"But I think we gave extra room to the opening batsman and the first down batsman because of which they scored at a brisk rate in the first 10 overs. But after that if you see 260-odd runs we should have got that," he said.
Asked who are the favourites to win the World Cup, Dhoni said, "If any of the side thinks that any other side can't win the world cup, it is a big mistake they are making. All the top sides in the World have a chance to win the World Cup. It is just about playing consistent cricket."