Wrong pitch-reading led to Nehra`s inclusion
The presumption that the pitch at the PCA stadium would live upto its billing of being a batting paradise made M S Dhoni pick Ashish Nehra ahead of R Ashwin for the World Cup semi-final against Pakistan, says former India player Sanjay Manjrekar.
"All of us, who had a look at the wicket, including Dhoni, thought the pitch was a belter and a batting paradise. This made him choose Nehra in place of Ashwin. But I don`t think he had the faintest idea that this pitch would turn out to be a slow turner in the end," Manjrekar said.
"The Mohali wicket has reminded all of us that pitch-reading continue to be the most difficult art in the sport. People have mastered the art of batting, bowling and fielding. But the art of assessing the pitch and gauging how it will play is something that is beyond all of us," he added.
The former middle-order batsman said the Indian spinners exploited Pakistan`s inability to play quality slow bowling.
"The conditions were such that the best time to bat was when the ball was new. That is when Pakistan batted well. After that, the slow turn came in and when Dhoni decided to bring on the spinners, it was always going to be difficult for Pakistan.”
"It also exposed Pakistan`s lack of batting discipline. Their batsmen tend to get out when you least expect them to. Umar Akmal was a great example. That is what you will get from Pakistan."
Manjrekar praised Suresh Raina for the application he showed towards the later stages of India innings.
"I did not like the move to play Raina in the quarters against Australia as I thought Yusuf Pathan got a raw deal. But that is what a good player will do - grab his chances. He played a crucial hand against Australia and against Pakistan, thanks to him, Indian score read 260 and not 210.
"He was batting with so many limitations. Raina was running out of partners. He had to get runs with the tail and did a great job," Manjrekar was quoted as saying.
Not to be left behind were the performance of the bowlers and fielders, who bundled out Pakistan for 231 after setting them a target of 261 yesterday.
"It was terrific to see the Indians not bowl any wides or no balls till the 37th over. That discipline is great for India along with the fielding aspect," the 45-year-old said.