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First proper interaction with pressure for Bumrah and Pandya, says Dhoni

'Nothing erases anything', says captain, when asked whether one-run win would erase memories of 2007 World Cup defeat.

24 March 2016 09:46

Conceding that a ‘majority of the members (of the Indian team) had a tough day’ at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium against Bangladesh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni patted his mates for their resilience, and said youngsters such as Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah would be the better for having been put under pressure in international cricket for the first time.

Bumrah had a pretty ordinary day in the field – a misfield off the first ball of Bangladesh’s chase in the ICC World Twenty20 Super 10s tie, followed by a regulation catch dropped to reprieve Tamim Iqbal – and with the ball too when Tamim slammed him for four fours in his second over. But he came back strongly to concede just 13 in his last two overs, the 17th and 19th of the Bangladesh innings.

Pandya, asked to defend 11 off the final over, went for nine in his first three deliveries but didn’t concede a single run after that, picking up two wickets as India squeaked home by one run for its second win on the bounce.

“Hardik is going through a phase where there will be ups and downs,” Dhoni said of the young man who had earlier in the piece slammed a seven-ball 15. “As a youngster, you are full of confidence and that’s where cricket steps in. You get a ride of your own, you score big in a game, then you don’t for a few games, then you come back strong. Once you go through these chapters, you become a more accomplished cricketer. A very good game from Pandya’s side, the reason being he had to bowl under pressure. He was willing to do it and was ready with his plans, so it’s good for him and for the team. A fantastic effort from him.”

Explaining the rationale behind bowling Ashish Nehra and Bumrah out, and keeping Pandya for the final over, Dhoni said, “It was quite an easy decision; the batsmen were scoring quite freely and I knew I had to take that one over from somebody, be it a spinner or Hardik. I felt what was important was to make a game of it, and that’s where I decided to use a proper bowler (in the lead-up the last over). According to the amount of runs needed at that time, we’ll see. There were quite a few options --- Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya. You want to give him that cushion of extra runs, so you go back to your main bowlers and you back their strengths. Whatever runs are mounting in the last over, if he’s able to execute his plans, then we’ll be on the winning side.”

Of Bumrah’s stop-start day, Dhoni explained, “In his (brief) international career, this was the first game in which he was really under pressure. It’s not only the pressure of bowling. I consider him a slightly weak link in the fielding department. Today’s game was very important. The very first ball if you miss, as a youngster you are under pressure, and he also dropped a catch. It’s important at that time to tell him that it doesn’t really matter because what has happened has happened. You cannot do anything about it. What was important was get away from it, and execute your plans to your strengths. I felt when he went for runs in the second over, he wasn’t completely out of it. After that, we had one more conversation, and it definitely worked.

“For somebody like a Hardik or Bumrah, this was their first proper interaction with pressure and what it can really do, so I feel they must have learned a lot out of this game. These are the games that make you better players, because it pushes you to think in a different way, to have confidence in your strength at a time when it’s really needed. Winning the game was much more important, I know, but being on the winning side, I know that the players would have really learned a lot today.”

Dhoni sought to put India’s 146 for 7 in perspective, saying the pitch had gotten a lot better for batting in the second half. “It was a tough toss to lose," he said. "Initially, there was moisture in the wicket, but in situations like this, you don’t know how much moisture is there. If you see the Kolkata wicket, they didn’t get enough time to prepare it but the key was that it stayed the same. It wasn’t a little moisture that evaporated, which was what happened over here.

“The difference between the very first ball bowled, when compared to the second innings, was that the ball was stopping, especially when it came to spinners. When you are bowling slow, you’ll get a bit of purchase to trouble the batsmen. As the game progressed, the fast bowlers’ deliveries started to come on to the bat slightly better. The wicket got better to bat on in the second innings but a lot of credit to the Bangladesh batsmen who came in and expressed themselves. If the stakes are not too high, often you’ll see batsmen playing big shots and that can help you. They kept cruising and putting pressure on our bowlers.”

Did this one-run win, and the manner in which the heist was pulled off, erase memories of that painful defeat to the same opponents in the 2007 World Cup, Dhoni was asked. “Nothing erases anything,” he countered. “Whatever is said and done, we’ll still remember the 2007 loss -- we were playing good cricket, and that was the point where we were not able to qualify for the next stage of the World Cup. We are all human beings, I know we are professionals, but at the end of the day, we also feel hurt when we have not done well. ICC events happen every alternate year, and you start preparing quite early. If you don’t qualify for the next stage, it becomes quite disappointing. It’s an emotional connect to the game, and I don’t think this victory erases the 2007 loss. You have to move on, but that was quite harsh on us, especially on me. Life was very tough.”

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