Livid India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni wants bowlers to step up, says 'can't give away 300 or 300-plus runs'

Mahendra Singh DhoniAs per Mahendra Singh Dhoni's reasoning Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma were the most to blame, but he did not single out anyone in particular for criticism (Reuters)

A livid Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni squarely blamed his bowlers for the crushing loss in the opening ODI against South Africa, saying that their bad performance left the batsmen under pressure.

The Indian bowlers were hammered by South Africa, who posted 358/4 before dismissing the visitors for 217 in 41 overs on Thursday.

"Overall I think it was a bad performance. But it started with the bowling initially. This was not a 300-plus wicket. We didn't start well, and we were supposed to bowl slightly up," said Dhoni.

"Experience of these conditions is crucial. South African bowlers know what lengths to bowl and that is why I want my bowlers to step up. You can't give away 300 or 300-plus runs, because that also puts pressure on the batsmen.

"Right from the start then, they have to go after opposition bowlers, which in these conditions is slightly difficult. At the same time, we needed the batting to back the bowlers up," he added.

South Africa's opening pair of Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock added 152 runs for the first wicket, with the latter going on to score 135.

And then in the end, there was the cruel barrage from AB de Villiers and JP Duminy, garnering 48 runs in the last three overs. It meant the Proteas reached a mammoth 358 for 4 in 50 overs.

"If you see death bowling for different teams across the world, bowlers are going for runs. With the extra fielder inside the circle and the lack of reverse swing, even the best bowlers will go for runs," Dhoni said.

"So, the new ball bowling becomes important, especially in conditions like these. More often than not, the last ten overs will go for runs and so it is important to take wickets in the first ten overs, so we can put pressure in the middle overs and so that they do not have many wickets in the end," he opined.

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