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Pacers could have done 'slightly better' against Australia: MS Dhoni

Sydney: Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni made no excuses for India's 95-run loss to Australia in the cricket World Cup semi-finals but said the fast bowlers could have done "slightly better" and Shikhar Dhawan should not have attempted a big shot when they were going smoothly.

India's 11-match winning streak over two World Cups came to a grinding halt as the Men in Blue faltered in their 329-run chase and were bundled out for 233 in 46.5 overs.

Electing to bat, Australia rode on Steven Smith's 93-ball 105 to post 328 for seven in 50 overs and Dhoni opined that the Indian pacers could have bowled better.

"They played very good cricket, over 300 is always a difficult score, I felt it was just over par, they could have had 350. We came back quite well but I felt we still could have bowled better. The spinners performance was good but I feel the fast bowlers could have done slightly better," Dhoni said in the post-match presentation.

Dhoni's run-a-ball 65 stood tall amid a disappointing batting show as he waged a lone battle to take India past the 200-run mark and make a match of it despite the steep asking rate.

Shikhar Dhawan (45) and Rohit Sharma (34) started off well with a 76-run opening stand and Ajinkya Rahane contributed with a patient 44 in the middle overs. The Australian bowlers kept getting wickets to keep the Indian asking-rate mounting and Dhoni rued Shikhar's dismissal.

"We started okay but they bowled well, they got the reverse swing going. We were happy with where we were at the start of the tournament. We got off to a very good start, Shikhar's dismissal was slightly on the softer side, at a time when we could have had the bowling under pressure. Didn't really need to play a big shot. But you get pressure chasing 300+, makes you do things you don't want to do," he said.

"There was too much (for me to do), our lower order can't contribute too much in these conditions. Most of the good teams bat quite deep," he added.

On been asked to comment on his future career path, Dhoni the wicketkeeper-batsman said, "Not sure (about next World Cup), I'm 33, I'm still running, still fit. Next year, T20 World Cup, will be time to decide about 2019 or not." 

Australian skipper Michael Clarke credited the excellent team effort in the 50-over showpiece event so far.

"Obviously really excited, the boys played some outstanding cricket, Smithy's hitting the ball so sweetly and I was really proud of the execution of our bowlers. A lot of the guys sacrificed themselves for the team," Clarke said.

Clarke was all praise for his opposite number and hoped that Dhoni carried on in limited-overs cricket.

"Thanks to MS Dhoni and the India team, they've given a lot over the summer... You asked if MS was going to be at the next World Cup, I'm sure he will be, he has a lot of cricket in him," he said.

Recounting the World Cup journey so far, Clarke said that the New Zealand loss -- 1-wicket loss in the league stage in Auckland -- made them think and deliver at the right time.

"Losing to New Zealand (in the group stage) gave us a kick up the backside, the boys have turned up to training and the results have showed that. It's a wonderful achievement, we're proud to make the final but it's going to be tough against New Zealand," Clarke said.

"We'll fly to Melbourne, recover tomorrow, speak about training. It's been a long summer, we've got a few aches, mentally ready for the final but physically a few things to sort out. They're a great team, it's always good to play New Zealand, we hope plenty of Aussies come out to support us," he added.

Man-of-the-match Smith, who hit 11 fours and 2 sixes in his 122 minute stay at the crease, was just plain happy to get the desired result.

"Certainly does (feel good), we thought 330 was around par, we had to bowl and field well, the boys did a terrific job, so hang on Melbourne. Big stage tonight, semi-final of a World Cup, just nice to get over the line at the end. I always think of those people who've helped you along the way, really happy where everything at the moment and looking forward to Melbourne," Smith said.

Having scored a ton after registering three half-centuries in the mega-event so far, Smith hopes for another big knock at the MCG against New Zealand in the title clash on Sunday.

"Hope so, another big hundred would be nice, going to be an amazing moment to play a World Cup final against New Zealand, in our conditions at the MCG," he concluded.

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