Ahmedabad: Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez termed the 97-run partnership between Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the "turning point of the match." "No doubt, Yuvi was exceptional today. His partnership with Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the turning point of this match. We were not expecting it to go that further. We were thinking about restricting them to 160-170," Hafeez said at the post match conference here.
He also praised pacer Ashok Dinda, whose three-wicket haul helped India to win the second match here and level the series 1-1. "I think they did the basics right. Dinda was good in the last two overs. His yorkers were right and we thought if we can get a ball to hit then we can win the match. But the second last over, Dinda bowled well where Kamran and I got out. If either of us had scored a boundary, then it would have eased the pressure," he said.
He further said that hosts handled the pressure well and kept their cool during the death overs. "There wasn't much dew but they handled the pressure well. Their bowlers bowled really very well, which they didn't do in the last couple of matches. Today they were on target," he said. He lauded the effort of his team who came close enough to win the second match and said, "I will credit to the entire team for the performances they have produced in these two matches. There are some positives which have come out of this series.
Hafeez termed the 97-run partnership between Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni as the turning point of the match.
"Muhammad Irfan is one of them. His bowling was positive for us in this series. Shoaib Malik's return to form was positive for us. In this match, during the middle session after 10 overs, we couldn't bowl well. We didn't follow the basics and it cost us too many runs in the end." On the aggressive approach that they displayed during their run chase, he said,"When we got together, as a captain I conveyed to them that don't think about 192 but think of scoring 9 runs an over. If we can do that then we can win the match."
"The boys approached with this target. The first six overs was good. In the seventh to 10th over, we could have done better as a batting unit but couldn't." Positive approach towards chasing was something that Hafeez appreciated. "When we needed to score nearly 50 runs off the last four overs, we were thinking of going after the bowlers. Dinda bowled very well in the last two overs. But we are happy the way we finished this series," he added.
On his own performance during the series, he was modest and said,"I am trying hard to develop my cricket. Everyday, I try to get something out of the nets. Things are working and want to do that in one-day series as well." Asked about mercurial all-rounder Shahid Afridi, who was off colour during the series, he said, "He is not bowling well to be very honest. We want him to do a little bit more but unfortunately though he is trying hard, he is not getting the best results for Pakistan.
"Also with his batting, we want him to do a bit more but that is how the game of cricket is all about. Some times you work hard things don't work for you. We still believe that he is a very good player and he will come out of it very soon."