Dhoni urges higher run rate to qualify for semis

Australia's Usman Khawaja is bowled by Al-Amin Hossain of Bangladesh in the World T20 match in Bangalore on Monday. Australia and hosts India were both beaten earlier by New Zealand, making their quest for a semi-finals spot a lot harder.
Australia's Usman Khawaja is bowled by Al-Amin Hossain of Bangladesh in the World T20 match in Bangalore on Monday. Australia and hosts India were both beaten earlier by New Zealand, making their quest for a semi-finals spot a lot harder.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BANGALORE • India's skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni called on his big hitters to improve their run rate dramatically against Bangladesh today or face the prospect of a humiliating early exit from cricket's World Twenty20 on home soil.

The hosts are in fourth spot in Group Two after one defeat and one win. They desperately need a big victory today to strengthen their bid for a semi-final berth.

India's six-wicket victory over arch-rivals Pakistan on Saturday boosted their confidence after a shock 47-run defeat by New Zealand in their opening group match.

But Dhoni said India, the firm favourites at the start of the tournament to lift a second World T20 title, needed to improve to qualify from a tough group that includes Australia, who beat Bangladesh by three wickets on Monday.

"I feel there is still scope for improvement and in the coming two games that will be our priority," said Dhoni.

New Zealand lead the group on four points after two wins ,while Pakistan, Australia and India all have two points. However, India's run rate, which could determine who qualifies, is considerably lower than their rivals'.

"In the first game, our run rate went down. So it's not only about winning but you have to take care of the run rate at some point," said Dhoni.

After two losses, Bangladesh have little chance of making the semi-finals, but skipper Mashrafe Mortaza vowed to battle on.

"We will keep fighting. We still have two matches to fight hard," he said.

Bangladesh were left reeling after the International Cricket Council decided at the weekend to suspend their top bowlers Arafat Sunny and Taskin Ahmed for illegal actions, forcing them to rush in replacements.

There are also question marks over star batsman Tamim Iqbal, who is unwell and did not play against Australia.

Meanwhile, Australian skipper Steve Smith warned his side that they faced defeat in coming matches unless they improved after their narrow win over Bangladesh.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WORLD T20

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2016, with the headline 'Dhoni urges higher run rate to qualify for semis'. Print Edition | Subscribe