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September 15, 2007
Shoaib Malik has admitted Pakistan had been unaware that their match against India would be decided on the basis of a bowl-out in case of a tie. "When the match ended in a tie, only then we came to know that this [bowl out] would happen," he said at the post-match press conference. "I just told my bowlers not to take pressure and try and hit the wickets but they were not successful".
When Misbah-ul-Haq was run out off the last ball with the scores level, some confusion prevailed among the players with regard to the result of the match. The bowl-out followed, which India won 3-0.
"The match ended in a tie, so none of my players should be blamed [for losing]," Malik said. "He also dismissed the notion that Pakistan would have been better served using the big-hitting Shahid Afridi higher up in the order. "We needed one off the last two balls. Anyway he's more useful to us after 12 overs."
Meanwhile, Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he doesn't want to see matches ending in a bowl-out though the concept helped him win his first international match as captain.
"I won't want to see a cricket match decided on a bowl out," Dhoni said. "The team plays so hard to get a result and it should always be decided on the field."
Dhoni wasn't expecting the match to end with a football scoreline of 3-0. "It really amuses you. Winning a cricket match 3-0, it doesn't happen every time," he said. "But it is in the record books now. I can tell my friends, when I was captain my team won 3-0."
The choice of using three slow bowlers for the bowl-out, including two part-timers, Dhoni said, was made based on the players' performance at bowl-outs during team practice. "Whatever they [the bowlers] did, they were picked for that. They had practised a lot for such an eventuality," he said. "Actually, Rohit Sharma is the best when it comes to bowl-out, he has a 100% record - but since he was not playing we had to rely on the other specialists."
Asked what advice he gave Sreesanth before the last ball of the match, Dhoni said, "I told him to be free, and control his mind. He's like a computer, he just has to bowl one ball but he might be thinking of bowling 100 different deliveries."
Dhoni said he was pleased that India kept up their record of never losing to Pakistan in a World Cup match. "We might have to play them again in this tournament but, if we do, we would like to keep that record going."
As for the pressure of a match against arch-rivals Pakistan, he said, "I never take pressure whether it's India-Pakistan or any other game." He also had words of praise for his team-mates' performance in the crunch match. "As for my players they responded well. They were determined. They were focused. The intensity was good."
Dhoni praised his bowlers for defending a low total. "We needed a good start with the ball. The bowlers kept getting wickets at regular intervals. In the end, they managed to push the run-rate up to 12 per over and that is not easy." He also felt the Indian batsmen should have taken a more circumspect approach as the wicket was helping the Pakistan bowlers initially.
India's next engagement is their Super Eights match against New Zealand on Sunday at Johannesburg. Pakistan play Sri Lanka at the same venue on the following day.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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