Dhoni hails India nerve
Skipper heaps praise on all-round display
Last Updated: February 19, 2010 8:49am
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni praised his bowler's focus during the dramatic final day victory over South Africa at Eden Gardens.
"But there is tremendous pressure on you just being an Indian cricketer, so you are expected to play every game really well."
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Dhoni's men held their nerve to level the series 1-1 with a last-gasp innings and 57-run victory over the Proteas in Kolkata.
Harbhajan Singh was the India hero with figures of 5-59 - his final wicket, that of Morne Morkel - sealing the win and prompting wild celebrations across the ground.
Last-wicket pair Morkel and centurion Hashim Amla (127 not out) batted out more than 20 overs in the final session as South Africa appeared to be edging towards an unlikely draw.
"There wasn't much I could do, so I wasn't under so much pressure," Dhoni said afterwards.
"But we would have been very disappointed had we not won this game.
"We were 1-0 down in the series and we always want and are expected to win when we play at home.
"We all the more wanted to win considering the effort our three specialists bowlers put in after Zaheer was ruled out."
Strike bowler Zaheer Khan sat out the final day due to a muscle strain in the leg, leaving India with only one specialist seamer in Ishant Sharma and two specialist spinners in Harbhajan and Amit Mishra.
Dhoni put his side's series-levelling victory down to the mammoth first-innings score of 643-6.
He said: "It was important to score big in the first innings because the wicket wasn't a big turner.
"The batsmen responded well, four of us got centuries and the bowlers were great.
"The turning point of course was the last session on the first day when South Africa lost those seven wickets.
"We did not get too many before that and that collapse was really crucial because the wicket was best for batting on the second and third days.
"The ball came on nicely and there wasn't much swing, reverse or conventional, for their fast bowlers.
"There wasn't much help for the spinners and it was great to see Harbhajan and Mishra perform the way they did.
"In the second innings we lost Zaheer, but the other three bowlers did very well and if you take into account that we lost an entire day, the victory is remarkable."
Dhoni also singled out young seamer Ishant for special praise after he claimed two crucial wickets in the final session.
"It's good to see Ishant bowling well, he has settled into a rhythm, he's bowling quick and in the right areas," Dhoni said.
"But there is tremendous pressure on you just being an Indian cricketer, so you are expected to play every game really well.
"Mishra bowled well and Harbhajan, who was under so much pressure and is expected to get three-four wickets every time he turns up, was fantastic."