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September 24, 2007
India started off in this tournament as a strong batting team, but it was their bowling that bailed them out more than once. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the winning captain, recognised that it was the bowling that had won them the cup.
"On paper the batting was much stronger," Dhoni said. "But the way the bowlers bowled was very good, and if you compare the two, our bowling was much more consistent. Though there were a few good individual batting performances, the bowling was better through the tournament." That, he said, was also a reason why he chose to bat first on most occasions after winning the toss. "The idea was to get a decent score and then try to defend it. Our fielding helped too. We effected a run out in almost every game. When the total is relatively low - only around 150-155 - run outs and good fielding increases the total by 15-20 runs, and we managed to do that in most of the games."
Dhoni's captaincy has come in for plenty of praise, but he chose to play it down, instead praising the players for responding to the challenges. "The captain hasn't done much. The players who have been given the responsibility have delivered. There was no [top order] batsman who hadn't scored runs, the fielding had been very good overall. Yuvraj [Singh] has been very good, while Harbhajan has made a very good comeback. The best part is everything who has been given the responsibility has delivered. This side is confident, enjoying each other's success and backing each other." Dhoni admitted that he was concerned about Misbah-ul-Haq's late charge, but said he knew they were only a wicket away from wresting the initiative again. "We knew they didn't have wickets in hand. Pressure becomes a very important aspect in big games. Harbhajan Singh was good though he went for a few, Joginder [Sharma] was excellent in the last over. But I always thought as the game approached the final stages, our chances would increase."
About the decision to bowl Joginder instead of Harbhajan in the final over, Dhoni said it was prompted by the form on the day. "That was the best option available. Harbhajan didn't bowl his last over very well. I thought if a medium pacer bowls it would be slightly difficult since Misbah was timing it very well against Harbhajan, who was also not 100% sure about his yorkers. And Joginder had had a decent spell till in the match, so I decided to go with him."
The practice sessions were planned such that we were always fresh when we took the field for a match
Dhoni admitted that the number of runs they had wasn't a par score, and praised Pakistan's effort in the field. "In Durban it was a lot more difficult for batting - 170-180 was a very good total there. Here I thought we should have got 180, as the wicket was not very difficult. But the way they bowled was really good. After 12 overs they bowled some excellent yorkers, so you could hardly score off them."
He also had a special word for Rohit Sharma's 16-ball 30, which lifted the Indian total to 157. "Rohit's innings was critical. We looked like getting 140, but we ended up getting more than 150. The confidence level went up and with our fielding we increased the target further to 170-175."
Looking back at the tournament, he said the way the team planned the practice sessions and the periods of rest was critical. "There was a two-and-a-half month tour to England, so it was tough on the players. The way we planned this tournament was very important. The practice sessions were planned such that we were always fresh when we took the field for a match."
The Indians didn't practice before the final, despite playing at a venue where they'd played only once before in the tournament.
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