All-rounder Yuvraj Singh wins it for India

Yuvraj Singh essays a flick shot during his knock of 50 not out against Ireland at Bengaluru

By Suneer Chowdhary

Bengaluru: Mar 6, 2011

Kevin O Brien would have got a good view of how he punctured the English hopes in the previous game. With 41 runs needed and the normally unflappable Mahendra Singh Dhoni having walked back into the pavilion as the fifth batsman out, things had begun to sticky for the Indians. In walked Yusuf Pathan, and in a span of five balls, turned the game away in their favour.

There was a four and a couple of huge sixes, one of them becoming the second-longest six in the tournament behind O Brien and the game had seen a paradigm shift. India rode on his finishing and Yuvraj Singh s half-century, to go with his five-wicket haul to chase down 208 in the 46th over.

Before Pathan came to the crease, the Indians seemed to have made heavy weather of a relatively moderate chase. Virender Sehwag hit a four off his first ball and was dismissed by Trent Johnston sparking off the monkey-dance from the bowler. Gautam Gambhir lasted 15 balls before a wide delivery down the leg-side from the same bowler was guided to the short fine-leg. That the batsman was surprised was hardly a surprise.

Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli were involved in a resurrection effort, not wanting to go the English way. Both got to 30s before Tendulkar played a stroke unbecoming of the great man; in the process getting lbw to George Dockrell. Kohli, on the other hand, was fluent as ever but got into a misunderstanding with Yuvraj Singh to be run out.

At 100 for four, the Indians looked like the Irish had a reasonable chance for another upset. Dhoni stalled the wickets spree with some sensible rotation of strike with Yuvraj. By then, Yuvraj, who had earlier bagged his first ever five-wicket haul, had grown in confidence and the absence of Johnston out due to an injury made it easier for the batsmen.

Dhoni s dismissal did leave the Indians in some trouble, but Pathan s aggressive stance changed all that and gave the crowd what they were probably hoping for all evening a repeat of the Kevin O Brien treat.

The pitch looked a tad different from the ones that have been seen for the two previous games. Batting was certainly not easy from the early in the game. Apart from a third-wicket century stand between William Porterfield and Niall O Brien, none of the Irish players could manage to get going. Yuvraj was the obvious cornerstone of the Indian bowling after it had looked at one stage that the Irish were looking to push the score to 250.

With Piyush Chawla failing to regain the touch that had seen him get the wickets in the warm-up games, Dhoni had had no option but to turn to the part-time bowling options. Pathan bowled some bad balls and was lucky to get away with only 32 taken off his seven overs, but Yuvraj responded really well to his skipper s call.

Keeping the ball up to the batsmen, he made them turn just enough to create some confusion in the ranks. Andrew White edged one to the wicket-keeper, Kevin O Brien played his stroke too early and afforded the bowler a sitter, while Porterfield smashed a long-hop to a fielder.

With three under his belt, this was followed by a couple of UDRS reviews going his way and Yuvraj had ended with a five-for. This also meant that despite Chawla ending with figures of none for 56 off his eight, the Irish were bowled out for 207 losing the last eight for 85.

The win propelled the Indians to the top position in the points table after the South Africans had earlier been stunned by England.

Brief scores: Ireland 207 all out in 47.5 overs (William Porterfield 75, Niall O Brien 46; Yuvraj Singh 5 for 31, Zaheer Khan 3 for 30) lost to India 210 for 5 in 46 overs (Yuvraj Singh 50, Sachin Tendulkar 38; Trent Johnston 2 for 16, George Dockrell 49) by 5 wickets.

Man of the Match: Yuvraj Singh

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here @suneerchowdhary)

Pictures Getty Images