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3 hits and a victory

Skipper Dhoni reveals how his bunch of non-regulars mastered bowl-outs as India edged out Pakistan, reports A Karhadkar.

cricket Updated: Sep 16, 2007, 04:43 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times

The spectators who had flocked into the Kingsmead ground here could not have asked for more on Friday evening — an India-Pakistan match that swung from one team to the other before the thriller ended in a last-ball tie.

Pakistan had the upper hand at the interval, the pendulum swung India's way with some tight bowling. Then, with just three overs left, Pakistan cut loose and needed just one off the final two balls. And a tie it was, followed by cricket's version of penalty shootout.

It was great to see the young Indians not choking under pressure. Sehwag, Harbhajan and Uthappa were bang on target while Pakistan couldn't make a single hit.

"Bowl-out is something that really amuses you," India skipper MS Dhoni said. "That's really a novelty, winning a match 3-0. A few years down the line, I can tell my friends that I was the skipper when we won a match 3-0!"

After Misbah-ul-Haq got out off the last ball, the Indians started celebrating. The umpires appeared unsure whether a bowl-out was to be enforced until they were briefed by ICC officials. Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik admitted that it was quite confusing: “We got to know about this only after the match was tied.”

Though Malik said bowl-outs don't require anything special, in the final analysis, after the three misses by his regular bowlers, it was clear they do.

The Indian think-tank deserves credit — they have been practising bowl-outs right from their arrival here.

"The bowlers were selected precisely for what they did," Dhoni said. "At every practice session, we practise bowl-outs. These were the guys who were among the best. Rohit (Sharma), not in the playing XI, is the best actually — he has a cent per cent record in all the sessions."

Doesn't a bowl-out take the focus away from the action in the game, though? Malik did say that he did not "think that we lost, it was a tie".

Despite the win, Dhoni also did not seem enamoured of the bowl-out.

"I wouldn't like to see a bowl-out in future," he said. "That's not the perfect way of deciding a match. You work so hard during a game… You'd love it to be always decided on the field, not in a bowl-out."

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