Indore: Mahendra Singh Dhoni might have paved the way for India’s victory with an unbeaten 92 in the second cricket ODI, but the skipper preferred to credit his bowlers for the series-levelling win against South Africa here tonight.
Going through the toughest phase of his international career, Dhoni produced a captain’s knock to guide India to a respectable 247 for nine and then showed good leadership acumen with smart bowling changes to bundle out South Africa for 225 in 43.4 overs.
“What was important for us was to get early breakthroughs and that was provided by the spinners. I felt the spinners bowled well on a wicket where there was less assistance for them. Later on the fast bowlers took wickets at crucial intervals. Overall, it was a complete team effort,” Dhoni told reporters at the post-match press conference.
“It is such a victory where the bowlers’ contribution is more than the batsmen. Some bowlers contributed by scoring runs as well. In a score like 250 if your bowlers contribute 40 odd runs it means a lot,” he said.
A wide range of strokes were on display as Dhoni answered his critics with an unbeaten knock that came off 86 balls.
‘Captain Cool’ batted with tail-enders with a calm head as India scored 82 runs off the last 10 overs to put on a board a decent total, which at one stage looked impossible having slumped to 165 for seven in 40 overs.
Talking about his match-winning knock, Dhoni said he was in two minds after being left stranded with the tail but decided to take the innings as long as possible.
“It was an opportunity to make runs. Though I scored runs and we won the game but usually you don’t want such an opportunity to come. You want your top-order to perform. I felt we needed partnerships at that point of time. Once we lost (Ajinkya) Rahane and a few other wickets, I was thinking to play the big shots as I was not sure how long the lower order will survive with me.
“But that’s when I said no and looked to play a few more deliveries, looked to play 50 overs. The good thing with batting first is whatever you score the opposition has to score those runs. Keeping it simple was important and that’s what we did,” Dhoni said after scoring his 60th ODI half century.
The Indian skipper said 247 was gettable at the placid Holkar Stadium wicket.
“We managed to get 247 which I don’t think was a par score in this wicket but definitely something which we could look to defend. But it was not a safe score.