Yuvraj rules the roost, helps India take 2-0 lead

By Pervez Bari, TwoCircles.net,

Indore: It was Yuvraj Singh all the way as he stymied England once again to give India 2-0 lead in the ongoing seven One Day International, (ODI), series. England went down by 54 runs without putting up much of a fight in the second ODI match of Hero Honda Cup 2008 here at the Maharani Usha Raje Cricket stadium on Monday

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Yuvraj, who was rightly named Man of the Match for his all round performance, once again became a thorn in the flesh of Englishmen as he dashed their hopes of squaring the series. This time he not only performed spectacularly with the bat, scoring another century (118 in 122 balls), but rattled their batting line up with his bowling to claim four valuable wickets for 28 runs in his ten overs.

India putting on 292 for nine in their allotted 50 overs dismissed England for 238 in 47 overs to register 54 runs triumph.

England were themselves to blame as they left India off the hook after pinning them down to 29 for three in 7.3 overs, courtesy their pacer Stuart Broad. He claimed all the three wickets and finished with four wickets for 55 runs in his quota of 10 overs. But that was not to be.

With three wickets down for India the body language of Englishmen gave an impression as if they would turn the tables on their rivals after their annihilating defeat at Rajkot in the first ODI match.

While chasing India’s total of 292 England’s overcautious approach to take chances against double spin attack in the shape of Yuvraj and Harbhajan Singh from both ends who choked their innings and the required run rate kept on climbing. This was the time for English set batsmen Owais Shah and Matt Prior to get on top of the Indian spinners but they probably thought that defensive approach would sail their team through to overcome a big Indian total. They got bogged down for too long in the middle overs despite having wickets in hand and left too much to do during the third Powerplay. Both Shah and Prior, however, paid the price and both departed in quick succession falling to the guiles of Yuvraj.

Owais was the top scored of English team with 58 in 78 balls made with eight boundaries and one six while Prior posted 38 in 64 balls with four boundaries to his credit. Thereafter, England lost the way and India coasted to victory to go up 2-0 in the series. But all credit to India for applying the pressure.

Indian captain electing to bat after winning the toss saw his team in tatters when England pacer Stuart Broad banished three batsmen opener Virendar Sehwag, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina in his first, second and third over.

However, after the first drink interval taken when 15 overs were completed with India on 61 for three, complacency set in the England team and it was from here that Yuvraj and Gautam Gambhir put their heads down together to repair the damage already done. Taking advantage of Englishmen’s complacency the partnership between the two left-handers Yuvraj and Gambhir flowered and they went on to put up 134 for the fourth wicket in 22.3 overs.

Gambhir facing England skipper Pietersen walked across his stumps and tried to fetch it from outside the off stump and work it to the on-side. He tried to clip it away but got an inside edge which rolled on to his stumps. He garnered 70 runs in 76 deliveries with the help of six hits to the fence and two over it.

Yuvraj also fell to Broad. In the 44th over on the fourth delivery Broad pitched it up outside off stump and Yuvraj threw everything at it, there was a feather touch and Prior took the offering easily. His innings of 118 accomplished in 122 balls was studded with 15 boundaries and two sixes.

Yousuf Pathan boosted Indian innings with his quick-fire unbeaten 50 with two hits to the ropes and four towering sixes. Without Pathan’s effort Indian innings would have folded around 250 only.

England will have to somehow regroup soon or the series will be just as drab as the one in 2006. If England are to give themselves a chance, they will have to bat first. Pietersen goofed up at the toss in Rajkot and he should be careful not to repeat that if the conditions are good for batting. They might need to rework their batting order and get Bopara up the order.

At the presentation of Man of the Match ceremony England captain Kevin Pietersen on being asked by Ravi Shastri said: “We had a chance at 29 for 3. We lost ourselves to Yuvraj. He was fantastic. We improved from the last game. Let’s hope we improve more. We need to carry on our good start with the ball. One of the top five should have gone on to a big score. I don’t think we missed a specialist spinner. Samit bowled OK. I bowled five overs of rubbish.”

While Dhoni said:” Great performance by Yuvi and Gambhir. You’ve got to change the target every 5 to 10 overs. As the partnership between them grew we kept raising our target. We are enjoying each other’s success. Yusuf Pathan was up to the mark, this will help boost his confidence. We’ll take it one game at a time.”

Yuvraj who got Man of the Match award and Hero Honda bike from the sponsors replying to Shastri said: “I have been training hard over the last few months and it’s paying off. At 29 for 3 I wanted to assess the wicket, spoke to Gambhir a lot about the target. There were some shots you couldn’t play on this wicket.”

India started the innings disastrously as Virendra Sehwag, who flourished at Rajkot with the bat, failed miserably here as he made a single only but compensated with ball to take three for 28.

Broad got the ball to cut back in after pitching on a good length and Sehwag was a little late in covering the movement, the ball took the inside edge and struck the base of the off-stump. Sehwag played a similar shot off Anderson in the previous over but got away. Not this time, however.

Broad’s second victim was Suresh Raina who could make only four runs. Broad pitched the ball on a good length on middle and leg, Raina expecting it to come on quicker and was too early on the stroke, he ended up chipping it tamely to Samit Patel at short square leg who fell forward and took it comfortably.

Rohit Sharma threw his wicket away. It was a sudden rush of blood from Sharma when he made only three. He attempted to hook a short ball from Broad on a slow pitch and failed to carry off the stroke, Owais Shah at midwicket took a sitter. ([email protected])