Dhoni backing inexperienced players after New Zealand loss

MS Dhoni asked for patience with India's raw middle order after his side went down to a narrow one-day international loss against New Zealand in Ranchi on Wednesday.

Chasing 261 for an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series, India fell to 241 all out with only Ajinkya Rahane (57) passing the half-century mark.

With Dhoni coming in at four, India's middle order of Axar Patel, Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav have just 51 ODI appearances between them.

Axar contributed a defiant 38, although Pandey and Jadhav made only 12 and 0 respectively, and Dhoni says they must be given time to develop on the international stage.

"The numbers five and six are quite new, they will learn their own way," the captain said. "Some will play big shots, some will take it deep.

"Once they have played 15-20 games, they will figure out what works for them. Cricket has changed, people like to play big shots.

"It is important to not tell them to stop playing the shots; you don't want them to go into their shells. They played their shots when the ball was in their area. They will learn after they have played 15-20 games.

"We will have to be at our best in the decider."

With the series level at 2-2, the finale takes place in Visakhapatnam on Saturday, and Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson is eagerly anticipating the decisive showdown.

"What we wanted was to build partnerships. It was not an easy surface. Although you always want more, 260 was not a bad effort on that surface," he said.

"It has been a long tour. It's exciting to go 2-2; India is a great side, it is exciting to go level into the final match."

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