Mohammed Siraj and other India bowlers’ confidence will increase after successful defence in tight finish, says Yuzvendra Chahal


India held off a late surge from West Indies to scrape through by a mere three runs in the first of three ODIs at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad on Friday. West Indies were down to 252 for 6 in the 45th over in pursuit of India’s 308 for 7, but No 8 Romario Shepherd’s fireworks revived them. It came down to 15 needed off the last over bowled by Mohammed Siraj, and the pacer got his full deliveries on target to hold off Shepherd, who finished unbeaten on 39 off 25.

After the narrow victory, Yuzvendra Chahal said that India had the belief heading into the final over, given how Siraj had been landing it in the blockhole earlier. “We had full confidence, the way Siraj was bowling his yorkers, that we could defend 15 runs in the over,” Chahal said.

“In a couple of earlier overs, I think he missed just one or two yorkers. But there is always a bit of pressure, especially the way they were batting. One hit could have changed the match. When Sanju (Samson) made that stop off the wide, our confidence increased further.”

With eight needed off two balls, Siraj had sent the ball down the leg side but wicketkeeper Samson saved what could well have been four byes with a big dive.

: Chahal hails former RCB teammate for defending 15 runs in last over” id = “8046822” liveblog = “no” ]

Skipper Shikhar Dhawan, also Player of the Match for his 97, said that it had got too close but India had tried to maintain calm and use the longer boundary. “There were nerves in the end and I didn’t expect it to turn out that way,” Dhawan said. “We kept our cool and one small change in the end where we pushed the fine leg back and that really helped us. The discussion was to use the bigger side as much as we can.”

Earlier, Chahal had struck two vital blows himself, in the 37th and 45th overs, sending back Rovman Powell cheaply and a well-set Brandon King for 54. Both West Indies left-arm spinners Akeal Hosein and Gudakesh Motie had found some grip as the ball had got older in the first innings, and Chahal also made use of that, as well as bringing the longer boundary into play more often.

“I knew that the ball had got old and I could beat the batsmen with turn. So I was changing my lines and bowling wider. The leg-side boundary was a bit shorter, so I thought that it is better if I try to get them to hit over cover,” said Chahal.

The leg-spinner added that he has been told he will have to bowl a bit after the 40th over and used his Indian Premier League death-bowling experience for that role.

“I have bowled a lot in the 16th, 17th and 18th overs in the IPL so that has given me confidence. In ODIs, my role has been made clear that I will bowl a couple of overs after the 40th. So I plan accordingly in the nets and with the bowling coach,” said Chahal.

“Their middle-order batsmen should also be given credit for batting well, but we knew that if we could take a couple of wickets, the pressure would be on them.”

Chahal said that the Indian bowling attack, especially Siraj, would take a lot of confidence going into the rest of the series after coming out on the right side of the opening thriller.

“Even if 60 are needed off the last six (overs), we know that three-four big hits can do it. I think we gave away 10-15 extra runs but we will learn from it,” Chahal said. “After such a match, Siraj and the other bowlers’ confidence will increase a lot because it was a small ground and they have big hitters so it was not easy to defend.”

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