India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has hailed the Pathan brothers -- Yusuf and Irfan -- for their match winning eighth-wicket partnership and said if it wasn't for them, the result of the match would have been different especially with the middle order finding it tough to score runs against the Sri Lankan spinners.
Yusuf and Irfan shared a crucial 59-run unbeaten eight-wicket stand to set up a pulsating three-wicket victory for India in the one-off Twenty20 match against the Lankans on Tuesday.
"It was a tough match; both when we were bowling and when we were batting as well. We played a couple of bad shots in the middle of the innings and the pressure came back to us.
"It was tough to score runs against the spinners as the ball was turning a lot. At one point of time, it even became difficult to rotate strike. But we have to keep that in mind as it was a good learning for us. The Pathan brothers brought us back into the game," Dhoni said after the match last night.
Man-of-the-match Yusuf, who picked up two important wickets for 23 runs during the Lankan innings and scored a breezy 22 to set the foundation for the victory, said he just played his natural game.
"It was good day for brothers, we batted well and played good cricket. When captain gave me the ball, runs were flowing pretty fast, so I just thought not to give any room to the batsmen and that really worked," he said.
"During batting when I found the balls landing in my area, I just went for my shots," he added.
Sri Lankan skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan also admitted that the magical partnership between the Pathan brothers took the game away from the hosts.
"I was really happy with 171. I and Sanath gave the start and the middle order also played well.
"But unfortunately I got out in the 16th over. If I was there till the end, then we could have added 16-20 more runs and that would have been handy. With the two early Indian wickets we started well but Yusuf and Irfan batted really well and took the game away," he said.
He also expressed happiness with the performance put up by the youngsters.
"I was happy with performances of the youngsters. They gave a good fight."