Yuvraj Singh’s blistering knock of 77 not out from 35 balls powered India to a six-wicket win over Australia in the one-off Twenty20 International at Rajkot. This is Yuvraj’s career-best T20I score.
With 202 to chase and a flat deck ahead of them, it was a perfect challenge for the strong Indian batting line-up. The nearly-settled opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma began sedately. Rohit even sweetly timed a six over backward square-leg. However, the batsman went for a drive on the up and nicked it to Brad Haddin.
Dhawan and Raina then followed up with a series of boundary. Raina, looked good to set-up one more good performance on home good conditions but in the quick momentum skied a simple catch to mid-wicket where Shane Watson took a well-judged catch off Nathan Coulter-Nile.
The outfield was quick enough to earn runs even on ground strokes, but the Indians took the chase a bit casually. Even Dhawan went for an expansive shot and was stumped off Doherty for 32 from 19 balls. Even Virat Kohli, played a little cameo before an aerial shot was caught by mid-wicket fielder. Kohli scored a 22-ball 29.
Unlike Australia, the Indians couldn’t keep the run-rate above the 10-per over roof while losing wickets. Once Kohli was dismissed, comeback man Yuvraj and MS Dhoni were left with a task of chasing over 12 an over.
The 14th over was an eventful one for the Men in Blue with runs coming and Watson providing some stunt at the fine-leg fence. Yuvraj first pulled a six off Clint McKay. The following ball he flicked a ball pitched on leg. It ballooned up in the air and Watson in the deep almost managed to do a typical Australian fielding by catching it, throwing back in the air and just jumping to collect it back. Would have been a great catch if he had not landed on the boundary rope. The southpaw looked confident and led the way in the challenging chase. His well-timed shots reassured that he is surely a rejuvenated batsman.
With 56 needed in last five, it was surely India’s match as long as the explosive pair remained at the crease. Yuvraj continued his fluent touch to complete his half-century in 25 balls. With the left-hander in full flow, Dhoni played the second fiddle. The timing of his shots were crisp enough to give the fielders a false hope of an aerial shot landing into their hands.
With seven needed in the last over, looked like Indi will cruise through. However, Dhoni did hold up the suspense for a while by playing a dot ball before smashing a boundary and a six.
Overall the Indians picked up the momentum at the right stage. After Kohli’s dismissal the chase could have gone wayward. But the comeback man Yuvraj will still struggle to hog the limelight in tomorrow’s papers thanks to Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement.
The high-scoring chase was set-up by a power-packed performance from Australia led by a 52-ball 89 by Aaron Finch. Vinay Kumar was pick of the bowler for India conceding 25 and picking three. Considering the pitch and the quick outfield, the Indians always had a chance despite the top four failing to make much of their good start.
Australia 201 for 7 in 20 overs (Aaron Finch 89, Nic Maddinson 34; Vinay Kumar 3 for 25, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3 for 35) lost to India 202 for 4 in 19.4 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 32, Yuvraj Singh 77*; Clint McKay 4 for 50) by 6 wickets.
(Abhijit Banareis a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed onTwitterandblog)