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MS Dhoni details last ball master plan

India’s captain MS Dhoni has lauded allrounder Hardik Pandya’s “fantastic execution” of the last ball, which led to Mustafizur Rahman being run out by Dhoni in a mad-cap final over. Having been cracked for fours off his second and third balls in the defence of 10 runs, Pandya had Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah holing out off the next two balls. The equation ultimately boiled down to two needed off the last ball.

After a lengthy chat with Dhoni and Ashish Nehra, Pandya sent down a back-of-a-length ball outside off, which Shuvagata Hom could not reach. He attempted a bye, and Mustafizur responded, but Dhoni was too quick for him. He sprinted and broke the stumps down as India edged Bangladesh.

At the post-match presentation, Dhoni said that the plan to stick to a back-of-a-length delivery, instead of the yorker, but not too wide outside off, which was what Pandya delivered.

“One thing was sure. We don’t want to bowl a yorker,” Dhoni said. “It had to be a back-of-a-length delivery, but how much back of the length is the question. You don’t want to bowl a wide and by the time it travels to the keeper, the batsman has the opportunity to take one more run.

“So we were deciding what’s a good field and what’s the length to bowl. I think he executed really well. You can always plan a hundred things and unless the execution is good, it doesn’t look good on the field. I feel the execution of the last delivery was fantastic.”

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza admitted that his team lost it under pressure, in the last three balls. “I think the last three balls actually, we lost three wickets and needed only two runs,” he said.

Pandya is not a particularly good exponent of the yorker, and when he attempted one off the penultimate ball, it ended up as a full toss. Mahmudullah slogged, but Jadeja came up with an incredible, running catch at deep midwicket. Pandya, however, can hit the deck hard, and muscle back-of-a-length or short-ish balls. Dhoni said that Pandya’s strengths were discussed before the last ball.

“The decision was what line to bowl, what length to bowl,” Dhoni said. “Also keeping in mind what the strength of the bowler is. That was the kind of stuff going. And also I knew once the 20th over starts, you can take as much time as possible. You can’t get fined for it.”

There were other senior members of the team who thought the short ball was the way to go in the final over. R Ashwin, who found grip and turn, to return figures of 2 for 20 told Star Sports that the short ball was the “toughest” for a lower-order batsman.

Dhoni also credited fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah, who regrouped admirably, after fumbling a four off the first ball of the 147 chase, and then dropping Tamim Iqbal on 15. Bumrah nailed his yorkers in the penultimate over and conceded only six runs, which gave Pandya some cushion. It was just enough for India to pull off the coup.

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