I hesitate to say the Indian Captain is wrong, but in his appraisal of the Eden Gardens ODI, he ignores the main reason India lost - they conceded 140 in the first 23 overs of the match to two modest batsmen (this was not Gilchrist and Hayden) who were not taking chances too many chances. Even Dhoni's view, at length, is as follows, and contains within it contradictions that he ought to be asked about:
"The bowlers brought us back into the game," Dhoni said. "The spinners in the second half of the first innings bowled well and the faster bowlers made most of the bounce available off the pitch. But when we went into bat, we lost too many wickets."
"Initially there was something for fast bowlers, then it became flat, but there was something for the spinners. There was turn in the first as well as second innings, but after 25th over the ball started doing a bit for the faster bowlers, even with the old ball. So there was everything for everyone. There were runs for batsmen too. It was a good ODI wicket."
Dhoni also conceded that the team was finding it difficult to win matches with part-time bowlers in view of the amended ODI rules which stipulate five fielders inside the circle for full 50 overs.
"We are used to play with part-timers. Now it's difficult for part-timers to bowl with five players inside the circle. If there's dew, then you don't get turn as well. With the new rules, you've to assess whether six batsmen are enough or seven."
"What we're looking at is somebody who can fill in the gap -- a genuine allrounder to bring in the balance in the side. Lower-order contribution is also very important especially when you're chasing."The bowler, as I keep saying, gets to start each play. The batsman can only play what is bowled at him. On a wicket which was two paced, bowling a good tight line and length, which would force the batsmen to hit on the up, would have cut down the scoring substantially.
At Kolkata, it was not the part timers who were the problem. It was the new ball bowlers. They conceded 140 in the first 23 overs of the match. If, as Dhoni says, there was something for the fast bowlers (this was something India expected, they chose to field after all), then surely two obvious points emerge:
1. The first 11 overs bowled by the fast bowlers went for 71 runs.
2. The three fast bowlers between them bowled only 11 of the first 15 overs.
Reading the review of the match, and Dhoni's comment on it, one could be forgiven for believing either that (a) The first half of India's bowling innings didn't actually happen, or (b) That because they bowled Ok in the 2nd half, and Pakistan imploded on a slowing wicket, the runs Pakistan made in the first half of their innings were no longer being counted in the match!
Chasing 250, or 5 an over, is no mean task, especially on a pitch where hitting on the rise is difficult. Both Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh fell to mistimed shots, Sehwag got a good ball, Kohli was plainly unlucky and Raina was stumped off a good ball. What these figures don't show is how much better Pakistan's new ball bowlers bowled compared to India's.
Dhoni did not blame the batsmen. There is a difference between explaining why a particular game panned out the way it did, and saying who was responsible for the defeat. Ironically, Dhoni's part timers (and Ashwin) bowled better than his new ball bowlers.
Ashoke Dinda and Bhuveneshwar Kumar conceded 1/103 in 16 overs between them. Pakistan lost 9/109 in the last 26 overs of their innings. Pakistan's new ball bowlers conceded 3/85 in 19 overs between them. Ishant Sharma and Umar Gul more or less cancelled each others performance out, while R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were easily out bowled by Mohammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal. This may have something to do with the fact that Hafeez and Ajmal got to bowl behind their fast bowlers. While Pakistan's new ball pair added 141, the next best stand in the match was 42.
MS Dhoni is clearly still learning how to cope with the new fielding and powerplay restrictions. This was also a factor in India's defeat.
So why did the Kolkata ODI turn out the way it did? Here are the reasons in descending order of importance:
1. India's new ball pair bowled poorly.
2. India's captain is still tactically coming to terms with the new rules.
3. India's batsmen struggled to force the pace on a two paced track against some tight Pakistan bowling.
4. Pakistan's bowling is superior and deeper than India's.
5. Luck. Kohli's dismissal and a couple of early edges that went through a wide third slip - on another day, Kohli might have got a boundary and Hafeez might have been out, and it may well have been a competitive game.
When Dhoni says that the "bowlers brought us back into the game", he neglects to point out that the bowlers bowled India out of the game in the first place. Whats more, they did so after being entrusted with the task for bowling India into a position of control by their captain, who won the toss and chose to field.