Yuvraj Singh helps India beat Pak, level T-20 series
Yuvraj Singh's career-best T20 knock and Dinda's late fight back helped India clinch a thrilling 11-run victory over Pakistan to level the two-match Twenty20 series.
Defending 192, India held the nerve in the end as Dinda removed Mohammad Hafeea nad Kamran Akmal in one over to restrict Pakistan to 181/7 in 20 overs at Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad.
Skipper Hafeez led Pakistan chase from the front as he smashed 23-ball fifty, smacking five fours and three sixes. Dinda ended Hafeez's scintillating 55-run knock to bring India back into the match.
India got a huge breakthrough when pacer Dinda dismissed Umar Akmal to break 62-run third wicket stand between Hafeez and the former. Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuvraj Singh removed Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad respectively to give Pakistan double jolt in quick succession. Jamshed and Shehzad started off well, adding 74-run stand for the first wicket to lay the foundation for Pakistan.
Earlier, Yuvraj's career-best T20 knock could not have come at a more opportune time as it lifted India to a defendable total after being pegged back by three quick strikes. Ever since Yuvraj arrived on the wicket, Pakistani bowlers bled runs as the left-hander plundered seven huge sixes and four boundaries in his 36-ball blitzkrieg to entertain a jam-packed house.
With skipperM.S. Dhoni (33) he added 97-runs for the fourth wicket as India put on board its highest total against Pakistan in T20s. Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal bore the brunt of Yuvraj's fury as the Indian creamed four sixes off him with three coming in a row in the 19th over, which yielded India 22 runs. Yuvraj was out in the last over off paceman Umar Gul, who was the most succesful bowler for Pakistan with four wickets at the expense of just 37 runs.
Earlier, India openers provided a fiery start, adding 44 runs inside five overs, but neither Gautam Gambhir (21) nor Ajinkya Rahane (28) could build on that. The two openers were in good touch, driving and cutting elegantly. Rahane found boundries on the off-side despite facing a packed off-side field and also flicked confidently.
Gambhir was in much better form than Bangalore and his drives off Sohail Tanvir was a treat to watch but Gul removed both of them in space of two overs. Gambhir departed after hitting Gul for three consecutive boundaries as he was foxed by a slower one. Gul returned and effected Rahane's dismissal with a catch in his follow through when the diminutive batsman miscued a pull shot.
Young fast bowler Mohammad Irfan was again impressive as he welcomed Yuvraj with a toe-crushing yorker. The two quick wickets pegged India back, free-flowing runs stopped and pressure was on Yuvraj and Virat Kohli to wriggle the side out of the tight situation. Kohli (27) too departed after getting his eye in when a confusion between him and Yuvraj resulted in his run out.
Dhoni arrived and meant business straight away, dispatching one from Shahid Afridi with a lofted drive to the fence. Yuvraj too started the fireworks, hitting a massive six off Afridi over mid-wicket to bring up India's 100 as India reeled off 17 runs in the 13th over.
Ajmal too got the same treatment by Yuvraj as one of his deliveries vanished in the crowd. Dhoni and Yuvraj continued in the same vein till the end and ensured the India have enough runs on the board to defend.
- Asian Tribune -