India v Pakistan, ICC Champions Trophy, Group A, Centurion

Harbhajan should have bowled earlier - Malik

Cricinfo staff

September 27, 2009

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Harbhajan Singh celebrates the wicket of Thilina Kandamby, Sri Lanka v India, Compaq Cup, final, Colombo, September 14, 2009
MS Dhoni brought on Harbhajan Singh in the 26th over by when Pakistan had scored 108 © Associated Press
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Shoaib Malik, the Man of the Match for his 126-ball 128, expressed his surprise at MS Dhoni's decision to bring on Harbhajan Singh to bowl only by the 26th over, by which time he and Mohammad Yousuf had nearly built a half-century partnership.

"I think he [Dhoni] should have brought on Harbhajan early," Malik said. "We were three down and another wicket would have hurt us." Pakistan lost their third wicket in the 15th over with the score at 65 and after Malik batted out a maiden over by RP Singh, Dhoni brought in part-timers Virat Kohli and Yusuf Pathan, instead of Harbhajan.

Dhoni justified his move, saying if a part-timer bowled along with Harbhajan then the batsmen would score off him while playing the senior bowler's overs out. "We wanted to force the batsmen to play shots against him," Dhoni said.

The Pakistan captain Younis Khan, by contrast, has fewer headaches to resolve and he aims to reach the ICC Champions Trophy final without dropping a game. The team leads Group A with two wins out of two. "It was a good toss to win and even a score of 260-270 was defendable. Even though they [India] started their chase brilliantly, I thought we only needed a wicket or two to get back in the match. After all, this score has never been chased at this venue," Younis said.

Most of the attack chipped in, especially the spinners Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal. He was happy with the efforts of offspinner Ajmal who took 2 for 31 in 8.5 overs but typically cautioned against building him up too much. "There is this tendency in our part of the world where youngsters are immediately compared to Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Inzamam-ul Haq," Younis said. "This can make a youngster lose his bearing. But yes, Saeed is coming up very nicely. We now have good youngsters in Umar Akmal, Mohammad Aamer and Saeed. If they keep performing and learning, we can be the best in near future."

The only one to have a real off-day was Umar Gul, generally the leader of Younis's attacks. But Younis played down concerns over Gul, who was the leading wicket-taker in the World Twenty20 in England: Gul went for 55 runs in six overs against India but Younis attributed it to a rare bad day. "He bowled too short and when he needed to bowl up."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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