Yuvraj fashions Indian victory

Hosts score five-wicket win to take 1-0 lead

Somehow, flannel masks Yuvraj Singh’s awesome powers as a cricketer. But back in colours, Yuvraj illustrated his value in the shorter formats in emphatic style as India notched up a fine win in the first T20 international here on Thursday.

After the early loss of Michael Lumb to R Ashwin, England exploited the waywardness of Indian bowlers, including debutant pacer Parvinder Awana, to reach 59 for one in the six-over Power Play block, indicating a much bigger total than their eventual 157 for six, a target India chased down with some degree of comfort for a five-wicket win. 

It’s to Yuvraj India need to thank for restricting England’s total as he grabbed three wickets in the space of 11 balls. He netted all the big fishes in England top order – Alex Hales, who made a belligerent fifty, Luke Wright, who looked set for a bruising knock, and skipper Eoin Morgan, a clever innovator who can push the board with as much power as a locomotive.

Once England lost them in a cluster, Indian bowlers took control over the proceedings, limiting them to sub-par score on a pitch on which the ball came nicely along and encouraged hitting through the line.

Once Yuvraj showed the way, Indian batsmen followed the suit. Gautam Gambhir was another player who struggled mightly in the Test series, and the two fifties only magnified his predicament. He gave indications of coming out of the rut, essaying a couple of glorious drives but couldn’t clear Hales in the deep off Tim Bresnan.

The Yorkshire pacer could have his second victim in as many balls but Stuart Meaker, who made his T20 debut, dropped Ajinkya Rahane at square leg. However, Rahane’s ambition to smote Bresnan over mid-wicket in the very next ball had a disastrous consequence, spooning a catch to Samit Patel.

India weren’t exactly in a precarious position at 44 for two, but needed some steam to surge ahead of England. Yuvraj provided that in his own style, combining elegance and power to a nicety.

It was a totally different Yuvraj. In the Test series, the left-hander looked all at sea against the top quality spin of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, and the reverse swing of James Anderson, and they weren’t there to bother him at the Subrata Roy Sahara stadium.

Of course, this wasn’t to take anything away from Yuvraj’s innings on an icy night. Morgan was right in his perception to introduce spinners James Tredwell, who made his T20 debut, and Danny Briggs from both ends to Yuvraj.

But the Punjab batsman looted Briggs for 6, 4, 6 off successive deliveries, and the sequence ensured that India would get a move on. He slammed Wright for a six to lay his intentions bare, and added 49 runs for the third wicket with Virat Kohli in good time to take the initiative from England.

However, Yuvraj (38, 21b, 2x4, 3x6) couldn’t stay in the middle till the end as Meaker took his swing off Wright in deep with ease. But for impact on the game, that cameo carried enough power to help India touch the tape.

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