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Dhoni praises Munaf and Co for the series-levelling win

Posted By: Pti

L Nandan

Johannesburg, Jan 16 (PTI) Although the battingdepartment flopped yet again, the bowlers led by a brilliantMunaf Patel brought us back in the series with the narrowone-run win over South Africa in the second ODI here, Indiacaptain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.

With figures of four for 29, Munaf led India''s stunningcomeback to bowl out South Africa for 189 after the visitorshad posted a paltry 190 on the board at the New Wanderersstadium yesterday.

Munaf, who accounted for important scalps of dangermanHashim Amla and Graeme Smith, combined well with Zaheer Khan(2/37) upfront to script the historic win and help India levelthe series 1-1.

"We got off to a decent start though it was bit slow butthen we lost wickets in quick succession and because of thatwe could not post a big total. During the batting power playwe lost vital wickets," Dhoni told reporters in the post-matchpress conference.

"Bowlers brought us back in the game. Munaf did the trickfor us as getting Amla out was crucial. I think Munaf''s spellwas brilliant. He bowls straight and varies his pace well. Hedeserved the man-of-the-match award," he said.

The India skipper also lauded off-spinner Harbhajan Singh(1/32) for his misery spell in the middle overs.

"Bhajji''s (Harbhajan) contribution was vital too as hebowled that 7-8 over spell in the middle. The momentum was onSouth Africa''s side when Bhajji came on to bowl. The SouthAfrican batsmen took decision not to attack him and by doingso they shifted the momentum slightly in our favour," Dhonisaid.

The bowlers'' performance, notwithstanding, it was YuvrajSingh (53 off 68 balls), who together with Dhoni (38 off 61),revived India''s innings with an 83-run fourth-wicket after thevisitor''s lost their first three batsmen for 67 runs.

And Dhoni admitted that Yuvraj is a crucial cog in theIndian ODI team.

"His (Yuvraj''s) role in the batting lineup is crucial. Ifwe get good start then he can come and score quick runs and ifwe lose few wickets then he can control the game with a solidinnings. He played very well in the match.

"It is important that Yuvraj gets into good form. He isnow a decent all-rounder for us as he also bowls a few overs,"the Indian captain said. .

With South Africa needing 12 more runs to win from 60 deliveries with two wickets in hand, Dhoni gave the ball topart-time spinner Suresh Raina and the Indian skipper said itwas a chance he took which could have backfired.

"It was an important decision. I thought that if aspinner bowls he may hit the pads and get one batsman out.

Normally, he (Raina) bowls well to left handers. Sometime youhave to take chance like this," Dhoni said.

He said the narrow loss in the second ODI will continueto haunt South Africa, who are desperate to shed their"chokers" tag in world cricket.

"Playing under pressure is totally different scenario. IfSouth Africa lose matches like this they have to face thecriticism of being called chokers. That''s one thing which willhaunt them," Dhoni said.

"Same is the case with India as far as playing in thefinals of tri-series is concerned." PTI LN SSC

Story first published: Sunday, January 16, 2011, 14:00 [IST]
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