Dhoni reveals tactic
Seeing Irfan Pathan operating with the new ball came as a surprise for most but India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni revealed it was a ploy to silence Shahid Afridi's blazing blade.
Dhoni was all smiles as he came for the press conference after his side beat Pakistan by 46 runs to regain lead in the five-match series. And he was only elated as he shared how he had planned not to allow Afridi fire on all cylinders.
"We knew they would check the record book and field Afridi as an opener. So we decided to give the new ball to Irfan. He's among the more accurate bowlers and he proved it today (Sunday)," Dhoni said.
Two years back, Afridi these days a 'floater' in the Pakistani batting line-up had created mayhem at the same venue, belting a 45-ball century. Expecting an encore from the flamboyant swashbuckler, Pakistan sent him to open the innings with Salman Butt but the explosive right-hander was castled by Pathan for 12, before he could be dangerous.
Interestingly, it was Butt and not Afridi, who looked in sizzling form even though the left-hander's career best 129 was not enough to avert a defeat.
Dhoni, however, insisted that though Butt was going great guns, at no stage did he fear about losing the match.
"In fact, I never really thought they came close to winning. The pitch was on the slower side, ball was not coming to the bat, wicket was assisting the spinners and Bhajji was bowling so well. It was very difficult to score off him. Zak (Zaheer) also bowled well and there really was no stage when I would fear that the match was slipping from us," he said.
Dhoni said he always finds it easier to build the innings with Yuvraj Singh because of the close understanding between them.
"It is always easy when I bat with him because we understand each other well. We can both strike the ball and rotate the strike at the same time. So it is always great to have him at the other end," said Dhoni.
Dhoni (49) and Yuvraj (77) combined to put on 100 runs for the fourth wicket and laid the foundation for India's winning total of 294.
Lavishing praise on the left-hander, Dhoni said the Yuvraj has established himself as a proven match-winner with his consistent performance.
Relieved after taking a 2-1 lead in the five-match series, Dhoni said, "We were not really bogged down by the loss in Mohali but obviously we knew that it was very important to win today as we now have a lead."