Wellington:India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Friday asked his teammates not to sulk after losing both the Twenty20 Internationals against New Zealand and gear up for the forthcoming ODI series against the hosts.
Dhoni said the Twenty20 matches gave them a fair idea about the conditions and the opponents and the players should now focus on the five-match ODI series starting March 3.
"It is great to play a few Twenty20 games before the one-dayers. There is no point in sulking and complaining that we lost two games," Dhoni said.
"I am happy with the preparation and the effort. Most of the guys have spent reasonable time at the wicket. They know how the wickets will behave and this will be of great help when the one-day series comes around," he said.
The Indian captain said despite conceding their second straight defeat, he was proud of the team.
"I am really proud of the side. The way we came back after the first three or four overs was encouraging. I thought Harbhajan (Singh) and (Ravindra) Jadeja were fantastic. It was sad to lose Ishant (Sharma) to a shoulder injury. Zaheer's (Khan) second spell was amazing. He gave his full effort and was at his best. Irfan (Pathan) too came back well in his last two overs. However, we can do better in the batting. We are a much more talented batting unit than them," Dhoni said.
While applauding New Zealand for a stellar performance, Dhoni also called for more commitment from his boys.
"New Zealand played better. Their bowlers bowled in the right areas consistently, and bowled a lot of yorkers. That puts a lot of pressure on the batsmen, at best you can only pick up a single.
"I am not too worried about the result. I am more concerned about the commitment and effort. I believe the players gave more than a 100 percent, especially from the time Bhajji and Jadeja started bowling. The effort of everyone on the field was great," he said.
On Friday's match, Dhoni said, "It was quite a close match. That is what Twenty20 cricket is all about. It's not just about huge hits, but also plenty of wickets, some big sixes. You want the game to go till the end. When we got 150, most people would have thought that New Zealand would win in 15 or 16 overs."
So far, India's famed batting lineup has not really set alight the series and the trend was evident today as well. Dhoni reckoned losing Yuvraj Singh and Yusuf Pathan in quick succession spelt doom for the side.
"We lost wickets quickly again. When Yuvi and I were batting, we were comfortably placed, scoring at 6.5 or 7 an over. We were batting well in partnership, knowing that with our batsmen to follow, we could bank on having a go in the last five or six overs", he said.
"But that was reduced to may be three overs at the end after we lost Yuvi and Yusuf in quick succession," Dhoni said. Even though Dhoni was effusive in his praise for Jadeja, he was not sure if the youngster could find a regular place in the ODI eleven.
"Given our one-day eleven, it is very difficult to make space for him right now,. He is not in the first eleven. These days we are playing only one spinner in Harbhajan and depending on part-time spinners.
"If Bhajji is unavailable, we will go to Ojha who is bowling well. Jadeja is definitely a good talent, an amazing fielder too. This tour will give him a lot of confidence, and the IPL will give him more exposure against bowlers who bowl at 140 kmph," explained Dhoni.
Brendon McCullum has been the India nemesis in both the Twenty20 matches and Dhoni heaped praise on the Kiwi stumper-batsman who picked his second Man of the Match award.
"McCullum batted brilliantly in both the games. He carried through till the end and the others were batting around him. That is precisely what you require as a team," he said.
Friday's match was somehow marred by crowd misbehaviour in the stands and Dhoni was clearly upset with it. "That is really sad. You don't want bottles to be thrown around in a cricket match. The cricket ball is enough to hurt you, as it is. My fear is that it is a bit like a disease. Once you throw a bottle it spreads. I don't want it to happen.
"May be it calls for more effort from the security staff. As it is, with people shouting at you from beyond the boundary, there is enough distraction. Hopefully, they won't throw bottles anymore," said Dhoni.
New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori was happy with the bowlers who, for the second match on the trot, restricted India's star-studded lineup to a modest total.
"I'm pleased with the bowling effort. Guys like (Jesse) Ryder stepped up really well. We had an opportunity to attack their fifth bowler but it didn't work," Vettori said.
Lavishing praise on Brendon McCullum, who picked his second successive Man-of-the-Match award for his unbeaten match-winning 69, Vettori said, "It was great batting by him. The two fours he hit in the last over brought us back in the match and he then finished it off."
McCullum, on his part, said his 53-run stand with Ryder made the job easy.
"I'm really happy and I think I played better than the last match. We had a really quick start and it was a matter of keeping pace with things," he said.