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Dhoni praises team’s fighting spirit

Dambulla: Having qualified for the June 24 final, India captain Mahender Singh Dhoni expressed happiness over his side’s sensational three-wicket victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in the Asia Cup cricket tournament on Saturday night.

“Overall we are very happy with our performance. The bowlers did well to restrict Pakistan to 267 after they had got off to a good start. Then, Gautam Gambhir provided us the start from where we could plan and develop our innings.

“We lost to Pakistan in the Champions Trophy, so it is good we won the game here. We were playing Pakistan after a long time, so people back home would have surely enjoyed this victory,” said an elated Dhoni.

India held their nerve in the final moments to register a nail-biting win over Pakistan at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium and book their berth in the summit clash against Sri Lanka.

With two defeats out of as many matches, Pakistan crashed out of the tournament along with Bangladesh.

Dhoni, however, admitted that things did not shape as per plans and situation became 50-50 in the end.

“Everything didn’t go our way and according to our plan. It is encouraging that the lower order came to the rescue in the end. If you look at it, we were in a position of strength when Gauti (Gambhir) and me were at the crease. Then it became a 50-50 situation in the last over. Thankfully, Bhajji (Harbhajan) made those runs,” said Dhoni.

Dhoni also played down the sledging incident involving Gambhir and Pakistan stumper batsman Kamran Akmal and said it’s all part and parcel of the game.

“If you ask me if it (sledging) happened or not, I would say let us leave it. India-Pakistan games are always intense with both wanting to win and so there is bound to be some spark in the middle.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi called on people in Asia to take cricket as a game and enjoy the intense rivalry between India and Pakistan.

“Winning and losing is part of the game. Both the teams enjoyed it in the middle. People in Asia should learn to accept winning and losing as being part of the game. One team has to win and one team has to lose,” said Afridi, who lauded Gambhir, Dhoni and Harbhajan for their outstanding performance.

“As a captain I am happy with the way the team has developed. We can do much better with time. We just need to be confident and go out and get the results,” added Afridi.

Afridi said he wasn’t happy with the way Shoaib Akthar bowled with the old ball. “He bowled well with the new ball. But having comeback to international cricket after a long break, he could not deliver with the old ball.

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