Kanpur: For fast rising South Africa pacer Kagiso Rabada, bowling to MS Dhoni in the final over of the first ODI was the "biggest pressure moment" of his fledgling career and he is glad that he got the better of someone of the stature of the Indian captain.
India needed 11 off the final over and Rabada bowled brilliantly to concede just five runs. He narrated how he went about his task in the 50th over of India s innings.
"I have never felt more pressure in the game than today.
Simply because of magnitude of the players and level of cricket. The fans, the big game, it was very emotional," Rabada said at the post match press conference.
"I was speaking to AB (de Villiers) at that time and I said to AB 'listen we have been bowling back of a length all this while, that has been the plan so what do you think?'. He said 'no' because MS can pounce on those full balls. The plan was very great and it worked out great.
"Pitched back of a length and we felt it was harder and harder to bat as the day progressed. It was a two paced wicket. We were clear in the last over about what to do.
Adjusted well in the conditions and it paid off," said Rabada, who has quickly earned the praise of his teammates after making his T20 debut in November and ODI debut as recent as July when he took a hat-trick against Bangladesh in his first 50 over appearance.
Rabada was exhausted after his exploits and said it was emotional the way his team won the game.
"During school, I have been required to bowl the last over quite a few times. But it can't bigger than this stage.
You are bowling to one (Dhoni) of the best in the world and I have seen finish games even when I was as kid. So it was crucial to keep a clear mind. I was lucky to get the advice of AB and other players."
Senior batsman Hashim Amla too was all praise for Rabada.
"Thankfully over the the last couple of years we have had many memorable wins. This was definitely one of them. If someone was watching TV in the 40th over of the chase, they would have their money on India winning. But Imran Tahir s over was a big game changer and KG s (Rabada) last over was brilliant.
"We had planned it (how to bowl the final over). It seems like a pretty tough length to hit. But KG bowled exceptionally well. I think it shows he can hold his composure in a situation like that. It is a testimony to his maturity."
South Africa are yet to lose in what would be a long tour of India. Amla said it is important to keeping winning, having also won the T20 series.
"Five One-dayers are a lot and you can have a bad game here and there, so to win a game like this is something we are grateful about. We have managed a good start. We have developed some good momentum and it will be great if we can continue it," said Amla.
De Villiers smashed an unbeaten 104 off 73 balls to push his team to 303 for 5. On his captain's stellar effort, Amla said, "We all know AB is the best batsman in the world. What he does I don't think anybody can do. He is very talented and excellent cricketer. We are very happy he is playing for us and that we don t have to bowl to him. Very few guys who can pace the innings the way he does. Congrats to him."
He also had words of commiserations for Rohit, who scored 150 in a losing cause.
"I think he batted very well. It is not often that someone scores 150 and the team doesn't win. It is rare. I think while he was batting, we thought if we could get a wicket, you just never know in this game. Imran got Rohit and Suresh (Raina) out and game was in the balance. Then MS batted well to keep the game close and KG (Rabada) bowled a great last over. These days if you need 10-11 in the last over, most teams get it."