Nagpur: After Ashish Nehra gave away 13 runs required by South Africa to seal the match in the final over, criticism for the bowler is coming from all quarters but India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni shielded the decision to give Nehra the ball at that stage.

Final Scorecard

South Africa clinch thriller at Nagpur

Match: In Pics

He said the paceman has been doing a nice job and hoped that the left-armer will win crunch games for the country later in the World Cup.

"Bowlers need to bowl at the right spots and if you are not doing that, more often than not, you are going to get hit. Bhajji (Harbhajan) was the only other choice but I thought a seamer would be better. Maybe I was wrong, but I thought that was the better option.''

"Nehra has been the mean bowler for us right from the start till the old ball. We have belief in him. Not this one, but may be he will come good in crunch games for us," Dhoni said after India's three-wicket defeat.

Dhoni also said not batting the full quota of overs, cost India.

"Had we batted for full 50 overs, we could have got 20 more runs. What is important is you don't play for the crowd you play for your country. We should have batted the full fifty overs. If we could have fielded better we could've made the score look bigger, but we're not a side known for our fielding," he said.

Winning captain Graeme Smith was all smile and patted his teammates for the "great" effort.

"For 25 overs up front we took a beating, but for the other 75 we came back really hard and showed some real fight. The guys showed a lot of composure, it was helluva noisy out here. Dale bowled well, and to chase down the runs under pressure is great. The confidence you get out of a win like this is huge," he said.

He praised Robin Peterson, who smacked Nehra for 16 runs in the last over to seal the win for India.
"I haven't seen Robbie [Peterson] hit the ball that clean in a long time, we've backed him in this world cup and he's performed. We can get on a run now, we've had long breaks between our games but we're playing every three or four days now," he said.

Paceman Dale Steyn was adjudged Man-of-the-Match for his five-wicket haul.

"After my first five overs I was staring down the barrel, but we pulled it backed beautifully. A great team performance. Once we picked up one wicket, we picked up another and we started build up pressure and a wave of energy on the field that we could capitalise on," he said.

(Agencies)