Cuttack:Losing three top order batsmen did put India in a spot of bother in the fifth one-dayer against England but captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he never feared the match slipping through his fingers.
Chasing 271, India got off to a rollicking start with Virender Sehwag, who was adjudged Man of the Match for his 73-ball 91, and Sachin Tendulkar (50) firing on all cylinders. From 136 for no loss, India, however, soon slumped to 156 for three with both the openers and in-form Yuvraj Singh returning to the pavilion before Dhoni and Suresh Raina - both slammed half-centuries - steadied the ship.
"We knew one thing that they had three seamers and they had almost finished their quota. So they had to bowl the spinners," Dhoni said, explaining his gameplan.
"We had one Powerplay still left and the asking rate was quite down. We knew if we survive for a while, we can get our eyes in and rotate the strike," said the Indian skipper. The job, however, was not as easy as it looked, he said.
"Light was low, it was difficult to sight the ball. It was moist and was losing colour but once you are set you can rotate the strike," he said.
Dhoni said the Indian pacers made a good come back in the match after their rather average first spells.
"We didn't get the best of starts from the new ball bowlers and in the middle I think the spinners did their job. In the second Powerplay, when the batsmen were set, I think Zaheer (Khan) and Ishant (Sharma) did a splendid job. They had restricted the England innings to 270 when they looked like getting 300," he said.
"Overall a good team effort, especially by the bowlers in the middle overs and at the death," he added.
Dhoni said Sehwag and Tendulkar gave India the great start and had Yuvraj been in form as well, India could have chased down even 300-plus targets.
"The kind of start that was needed was given by Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar. It was a pleasant sight to see Sehwag batting the way he does and Sachin rotating the strike and getting the odd boundaries. At the same time if Yuvraj gets going, you can expect 300-odd runs on the board," he said.
Dhoni said it was great to see the top order firing but thanked his bowlers for the stellar show in the series.
"It's a pleasure to see them bat but I think the most remarkable thing in the series has been our bowling, whether with the new ball or the old - at the start, middle or death," Dhoni added.
His opposite number Kevin Pietersen said 270 was not a bad score but the dew made life difficult for his bowlers who could not defend the total.
"I thought 270 was very competitive. I can see now why Dhoni chose to bat, it was a bit of a nightmare dealing with the dew in the evening," he said.
"But they won the toss, decided to field and we had to bat," Pietersen said.
He felt after Yuvraj Singh tormented them in the first two matches, Sehwag had taken over the role of England nemesis.
"We have been outplayed again by Veeru, he is such a great player and it was a great knock. It was tough for the bowlers," he said.