India captain MS Dhoni says his side's ability to stay calm under intense pressure was a key factor in escaping with a one-run win over Bangladesh in Bangalore. With India in danger of falling short of the semi-final stage, Dhoni's charges held their nerve and when asked afterward about the end of game situation he said it was important to keep cool in such hectic situations.
"In a situation like this, it's literally chaos. What you are trying to do is you're trying to manage chaos," Dhoni said after the match. "Everybody will come and he'll have his own opinion. Often the opinion of a batsman is very different to the opinion of a bowler. But what you have to do is you have to see what the strength of the batsman is who is batting at that point of time, how the wicket is behaving, whether there is some kind of reverse swing or no reverse swing on offer. All these things you need to calculate and I feel what really helps is you listen to all of them.
"But at the end of the day you push the bowler to bowl what you feel is good at that point of time. If I am convinced that this is something I want to do, I will go ahead with it but definitely having an open mind at that point of time really helps because at times in situations like these under pressure, that's where the input of others comes in. But you have to assess everything and it has to happen in a very short span of time."
Dhoni hailed the younger players in the India side for stepping up and performing in key roles. In particular, he gave credit to Jasprit Bumrah for overcoming a rough start to the second innings - a misfield turned boundary and a dropped chance off Tamim Iqbal were followed by four boundaries off Bumrah to Tamim in the sixth over - to bowl a crucial 17th and 19th overs, conceding 13 runs across the 12 deliveries.
"After the first misfield, if you see actually his international career, this was the first game where he was under pressure," Dhoni said. "It's not only the pressure of bowling. I consider him slightly weak when it comes to the fielding department and today's game was very important. We all knew how important it was. To start, the very first ball if you miss, as a youngster you are under pressure and I feel that actually reflected in his bowling also, then he dropped a catch.
"It's important at that point of time to tell him that it doesn't really matter because what has happened has happened. You can't do anything about it. Even if you sit there for half an hour, the batsman won't get out. What was important was to get away from it and at the same time try to execute your plans, what your strength is. But I felt when he came for the second over where he went for runs, I don't think he was completely out of it. So after that we had one more conversation. I won't say what I said but definitely it worked."
Like Bumrah, Hardik Pandya's international career is in its infancy with both players having made their international debuts in January. However, Dhoni was pleased with the way Pandya responded after conceding boundaries from two of the first three deliveries in the final over, which left India with no margin for error needing to defend two runs off the final three balls with four Bangladesh wickets in hand.
Dhoni further elaborated on the sequence afterwards saying that he came to choose Pandya to bowl the final over by going to his specialist bowlers first, including Bumrah and Ashish Nehra, in the three overs prior as a means of stretching out the game as long as possible before seeing what the final-over equation would be.
"The batsmen were scoring quite freely at that point of time," Dhoni said. "I knew I had to take that one over from somebody whether it was a spinner or Hardik Pandya. I said what is important right now is to make a game out of it and that's where I said I'll use the proper bowlers at this point of time and we'll see how many runs are needed in the last over. Then according to that we'll decide who is the person who can bowl.
"There were quite a few options. There was Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya was there. That was the reason behind it. Often it's quite an easy one. You want to give a cushion of an extra few runs and you go back to your main bowlers, you back their strength and say whatever runs you save it all keeps mounting on the last over and if he's able to execute his plans then we'll be on the winning side."
More than anything, Dhoni was proud of the way the team was able to still win on a day where multiple players had rocky outings. The resiliency on display for younger players like Bumrah to compose themselves and manage to do enough to win is something that Dhoni says is a valuable learning experience they can take with them through the rest of the tournament and beyond in their careers.
"It was still a very good effort by the team. I felt majority members of the team had a tough day. Ash had a very good day when it comes to bowling but still there were patches where he went for runs where he thought maybe the batsman played a very good shot. All the bowlers went for runs but they came back and everybody contributed. So I feel it's a very good game for us, especially for youngsters who have not played under a lot of pressure.
"Somebody like Hardik or Bumrah, this was a first proper interaction with pressure and what pressure can really do. So I feel they must have learned a lot out of this game and these are the games that really make you better players because it pushes you to think in a different way, pushes you to have that confidence in your strength at the time when it's really needed. So I think it was a very good game for us."