Team doesn’t look that settled yet: Dhoni

South Africa squashed India by 214 runs on Sunday’s match to win the series 3-2. It was their first ever bilateral series victory over India in India. The Indian captain replied to questions about his captaincy, batting order, and the bowling strategy.

M. S. Dhoni has now lost ODI series in a row.   -  AP

M. S. Dhoni believes Indian cricket should be looking at long-term goals, instead of focussing on a standalone series. South Africa squashed India by 214 runs on Sunday’s match to win the series 3-2. It was their first ever bilateral series victory over India in India. The Indian captain replied to questions about his captaincy, batting order, and the bowling strategy. Excerpts:

On bowling performance in the fifth ODI: Almost all the strategies were used by fast bowlers. From yorkers, cramping the batsmen, using the short-pitched deliveries. The spinners tried cramping them up, bowling wide. There are days when it doesn't work and when the wicket is so true and you have that kind of a partnership; it becomes very difficult to stop the opposition. It has happened in cricket, it keeps happening. If you face a similar scenario the next time you have to make sure that you don't let the opposition score so many runs. It is very important to stop the opposition near the score you can chase and take a few catches. I admit mistakes were made in bowling and fielding could have been tighter, but once they crossed 350, it is not a total we have chased so we decided to try to play 50 overs and take it from there.

On changing the team composition: I know cricket in India is more about results but at the same time you will not get results if you are not looking into the process. To be consistent, you need a settled team and to a lot of extent, our team doesn't look to be that settled yet. We have to look at the venue, the kind of wicket that is provided and accordingly make changes. We have made changes in the batting order to see what gives more strength, what looks like a good composition when we are chasing. You have to study these things.

On the need to look at the “larger picture”: If you look at the longer picture, we have to do all these things. I know not a lot of people are open to that idea, but if you only look at a particular series, in the long run, it will definitely harm us more. You have to look at the Champions Trophy and then the World Cup, look at the playing venues. We cannot play with three spinners always, but at the same time you have to sort out the batting order. You want to have strength in the middle and lower middle order and at the same time have bowlers who can get you wickets at any point of time in the game.

On finding the perfect all-rounder: It's a tough situation but we are looking for the solution. We have to try a few other things because if you are doing the same thing, you will get the same result and we'll keep talking about the fact that we don't have a seaming all-rounder. We have tried Stuart Binny, people have criticised that also but if you talk of all-rounders here, he is best seaming all-rounder, your two best spinning all-rounders are Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel. Whether you like it or not, these are the best we have and make the most out of them.

On pacers’ struggle since the 2015 World Cup: We tried going for fast bowlers - bowlers who are quick, but we realised that they are giving the opposition more runs and we were better off playing with people who are more confident of sticking to their line and length. Ideally, Mohit [Sharma] should be the third seamer but you have to mix and match to spot your best death bowler, who can do well in middle-overs, a good new-ball bowler.

We have tried out a lot of fast bowlers who have not done really well for us but at the same time when they go back and play in different formats, they are ones who have done well for their IPL franchises or in the first-class tournaments. It's a transition phase, sometimes it takes time. I feel there is a bit of difference between top strike bowlers in first-class cricket and leading strike bowlers at the international level.

If you see any other Test or ODI-playing nation, fast bowlers come and in one or two years graduate to the next level - they become the strike bowlers or learn what their strength is and bowl according to that. To some extent, we have not been able to do that and also, once you put in a lot of time and effort in a particular individual and if it doesn't come up good, then a vacuum gets created where you look for other individuals.