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Dhoni praises Munaf, Harbhajan for win

Press Trust Of India
Jan 16, 2011 at 05:38pm IST

Johannesburg: Although the batting department flopped yet again, the bowlers led by a brilliant Munaf Patel brought us back in the series with the narrow one-run win over South Africa in the second ODI, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.

With figures of four for 29, Munaf led India's stunning comeback to bowl out South Africa for 189 after the visitors had posted a paltry 190 on the board at the New Wanderers stadium on Saturday.

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

Dhoni praises Munaf, Harbhajan for victory

With figures of four for 29, Munaf led India's stunning comeback in the 2nd ODI.

"We got off to a decent start though it was bit slow but then we lost wickets in quick succession and because of that we could not post a big total. During the batting power play we lost vital wickets," Dhoni told reporters in the post-match press conference.

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

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

"Bhajji's (Harbhajan) contribution was vital too as he bowled that 7-8 over spell in the middle. The momentum was on South Africa's side when Bhajji came on to bowl. The South African batsmen took the decision not to attack him and by doing so they shifted the momentum slightly in our favour," Dhoni said.

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

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

"His (Yuvraj's) role in the batting line-up is crucial. If we get good start then he can come and score quick runs and if we lose few wickets then he can control the game with a solid innings. He played very well in the match.

"It is important that Yuvraj gets into good form. He is now 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 to part-time spinner Suresh Raina and the Indian skipper said it was a chance he took which could have backfired.

"It was an important decision. I thought that if a spinner bowls he may hit the pads and get one batsman out. Normally, he (Raina) bowls well to left handers. Sometimes you have to take a chance like this," Dhoni said.

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

"Playing under pressure is a totally different scenario. If South Africa lose matches like this they have to face the criticism of being called chokers. That's one thing which will haunt them," Dhoni said.

"Same is the case with India as far as playing in the finals of tri-series is concerned."

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