Yuvraj Singh smashed 132 off 134 balls © Getty Images
By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Jul 5, 2014
Yuvraj Singh‘s spell-binding ton has helped Rest of the World (RoW) XI score 293 for seven in the Lord’s bicentenary match against the Sachin Tendulkar-led Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). In this landmark game, Shane Warne won the toss and chose to bat. After a good start, Saeed Ajmal had reduced RoW to 68 for five, but then Yuvraj rescued the innings in company of Paul Collingwood.
This game is being played more in a celebratory mood than a competitive one. There were smiles all round, with erstwhile rivals sharing a laugh or two even when one had the better of another. Even when Brian Lara let go a chance in the off-side, he had a laugh. Ajmal too afforded a smile when Collingwood was dropped off his bowling by the substitute. That would have given him a fifth wicket, but who cares.
The innings started off with Adam Gilchrist and Virender Sehwag in full flow. They rolled back the years, when they chased the bowlers with their trademark style. Anything that was a bit off-line was punished with disdain. They put up 50 in the first six overs and then the floodgates opened. Brett Lee got through Sehwag with a straight one and then Ajmal came on.
Unleashing his lethal combination of doosras and the conventional off-spinners, the legends had a tough time to play him. Gilchrist and Pietersen were stumped as the misread it. Tamim Iqbal inside edged one onto his pads, but was given out and Shahid Afridi was beaten second ball with one that took his off-stump. In 12 overs, RoW were at a precarious 68 for five.
That is when Yuvraj and Collingwood came together. Collingwood played his natural game and spent time at the crease. At the other end, Yuvraj was positive and charged at the spinners Aaron Finch and Daniel Vettori. He swept them across the line a few times and also peppered the mid-wicket boundary. Ajmal was taken off as of course, the crowd needed a longer game.
MCC were not helped by the injury to Umar Gul, who bowled only two overs. As a result, they had to use Finch and later Tendulkar. There was a huge cheer when Tendulkar came on in the 41st over and it was appropriate when Yuvraj reached his ton with a sweep to mid-wicket off him in the 43rd over. In company of Collingwood, Yuvraj had put up 131. Thereafter, Peter Siddle gave him good company and saw to it that he reached his ton.
There were some dazzling strokes in Yuvraj’s knock. Two of them stood out in the slog overs. Ajmal was swept for a six over square-leg with disdain and Lee was flicked over mid-wicket nonchalantly for another maximum. Though Yuvraj has had a tough time in international cricket in recent times, this performance will do his confidence a world of good. Later, tendulkar had him in the penultimate over when he holed out to the deep. This came after Yuvraj had smashed one into the stands at long-off.
Warne came out to bat for the last over and faced a beamer from Lee first up. But, there was no bad blood here as everything was played in good spirit.
Rest of the World XI 293 for 7 in 50 overs (Yuvraj Singh 132, Paul Collingwood 42, Peter Siddle 33*; Saeed Ajmal 4 for 45) vs Marylebone Cricket Club.