Team that handles pressure better will clinch series: DhoniBy IANS
Saturday, January 22, 2011
CENTURION - Neither India nor South Africa will have an edge as they clash in the fifth and final One-Day International (ODI) here Sunday to decide the closely-fought series.
South Africa beat India by 48 runs via Duckworth/Lewis law in a rain-washed fourth One-day International Friday to level the series 2-2.
India, after being humbled in the first ODI in Durban, came back to win two cliffhangers, in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
With nothing much to choose between the two teams, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni rightly pointed out that the side which handles pressure better will clinch the series.
“The team that handles pressure better will win the match,” Dhoni said.
If India win, it will be their first series win in South Africa. In the absence of key batsmen Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, who are nursing injuries, the victory will be special and a big morale-booster ahead of the World Cup.
Dhoni pulled up the middle order for their inconsistent performance in the series.
“The middle order has not clicked for us and I think the same goes for South Africa.”
Like on three previous occassion, Indian batting crumbled at Port Elizabeth. Chasing a total of 266, India were reeling at 137 for six in 31.3 overs when rain stopped play. At resumption, the revised target required India to make 123 runs off 87 balls. But barely eight balls were bowled when the skies opened up again and South Africa were declared the winners.
The silver lining for India in the match was Virat Kohli’s unbeaten knock of 87. Dhoni complimented the flamboyant batsman who has been India’s key batsman in the series.
“Virat’s effort was a big positive. He is proving to be consistent and, more importantly, he is carrying the innings through.”
The Indian skipper used as much as eight bowlers to contain the Proteas’ batsman but barring Yuvraj Singh none was effective.
“They were scoring at a healthy pace. And that meant if they batted for 50 overs, they will get to a good total. And that is what happened. I tried the fast bowlers, spinners, part-timers but things don’t go your way always.”
The South African batting, too, has not clicked barring in the first match, and their batsmen have struggled to play the spinners in the middle overs. Jean Paul Duminy has batted well and pulled the team out of trouble.
The bowling has been the hosts’ strength with pacers Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe getting good purchase of the wicket and troubling Indian batsmen. Off-spinner Johan Botha has complemented the seam attack.
“We have done well with the ball in this series. We have generally fielded well. The intensity has been good. We are excited to go to Pretoria. The teams have been trading blows for 2 months now and it has been a competitive series,” said Smith.
The teams (from):
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Murali Vijay, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma, Shantakumaran Sreesanth.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, AB de Villiers (wicketkeeper), Jean-Paul Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Colin Ingram, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Tags: Centurion, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, sachin tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh