Johannesburg: India skipper Mahendra Singh lavished rich praise on his bowlers after their stunning show in the second one-day international against South Africa, which helped the team level the five-match series, here today.
"It's a big win for us, and a terrific show by the bowlers. Munaf (Patel) has been bowling really well in the last 10-15 one-dayers and besides that, Harbhajan's role too was crucial," Dhoni said after India's one-run win at the New Wanderers Stadium here.
"When Harbhajan came on to bowl they decided not to take on his bowling and the lost the momentum there. So, his role was very crucial," Dhoni added.
Asked about Yuvraj Singh's innings, Dhoni said, "Yuvraj is our main batsman in the middle order. It's important for him to get off to a good start and it's always a treat to watch him once he gets his eye in."Yuvraj top-scored for India with a fluent half century and was involved in a crucial 83-run partnership for the fourth wicket with his skipper. But his dismissal triggered a collapse from which India could never recover.
"It was a very good wicket and I think we were 40-45 runs short. We wanted to take the powerplay just before Yuvraj got out and then, when we took it, Raina got out. But the openers got off to a sound start," Dhoni said.
India beat South Africa by one run in low-scoring thriller
"Three games to go, it makes it interesting. We are expecting some tough cricket," he said.
Graeme Smith, who reached 6000 ODI runs today, lauded the Indian bowlers, especially Munaf, but felt some bad decisions pushed his team on the backfoot.
"We've got to be honest and can't take the credit from India, they put up really good show. But there were a few of bad decisions," Smith said.
"Munaf bowled well, especially the slower one," he added.
Smith was also pleased with Lonwabo Tsotsobe's bowling. He picked up his second successive four-wicket haul, today.
Despite dominating for a major part of the match, South Africa lost, and Smith felt things went wrong in the last 25 overs of their innings.
"We played well in the first 50 overs, batted well for the first 25 overs but the last 25 overs didn't go well."
"We hope to improve and do things right in the next match, things we did wrong today," Smith said.
Man of the Match, Munaf Patel, said he focused on bowling to a good line and length. "Initially, I concentrated on line and length, but used the slower balls later on," Munaf said.
"I was thinking about my local crowd who are here, so I was under a bit of pressure, because they would otherwise come to my hotel room," Munaf joked when asked what was going through his ind when he was bowling those crucial overs.
AB de Villiers and JP Duminy made it more difficult for the hosts, but South Africa were dealt their biggest blow when Munaf castled Smith in the 33rd over leaving the visitors at 152 for five.
Munaf and Zaheer soon made it 163 for seven. And if those blows were not enough, Dale Steyn ran himself out with South Africa just 14 runs away from victory. Morne Morkel offered a lolly to substitute Yusuf Pathan off Munaf, before the unassuming seamer drove the final nail in South Africa's coffin.
After scoring 55 runs in the first powerplay and 22 in the second for a wicket each, South Africa could manage just 22 runs for the loss of three wickets in the final powerplay, indicating the fightback made by the Indian bowlers.
Dhoni's ploy to use part-time bowlers like Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina at regular intervals also paid dividends as the former accounted for the wicket of the in-form Duminy.
Earlier, lack of discipline by India's batsmen coupled with a fine spell of fast bowling by Tsotsobe helped the hosts bowl the visitors out for a paltry total.
Tsotsobe finished with impressive figures of four for 22, while Steyn and Morne Morkel took two wickets each as India lost their last seven wickets for just 40 runs.
India lost four wickets for 14 runs in the third powerplay, after managing 54 in the first two.
The left-arm pacer worked his magic after Yuvraj Singh (53 off 68 balls) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (38 off 61) revived India's innings with a 83-run fourth-wicket stand.
Tsotsobe took the wickets of Murali Vijay, Yuvraj, Dhoni and Suresh Raina.
Batting first after winning the toss, India lost Vijay with just 21 runs on the board. Tendulkar and Virat Kohli then steadied the innings, but a flourishing 42-run stand was broken when the Delhi boy was run out by Miller's direct hit.
Tendulkar, who today equalled Sanath Jaysuriya's record as the most capped player (444 ODIs) in this format of the game, played a few aggressive shots before being stunned by a Botha turner.
After spending some time in the middle, Yuvraj got into groove with paddle-sweep four off Duminy.
He then guided Morkel over backward point for another boundary. Yuvraj brought his half century in style when glanced Tsotsobe for a four.
In the next ball, Tsotsobe pitched one up luring Yuvraj to go for the drive. The left-hander went for it, but only managed to find Steyn at mid-off.