It can’t get bigger than this. No India-Pakistan encounter is ever free of tension and it was no different at Motera on Friday. The face-off between the two arch-rivals in a T20I (T20 International), the shortest format of the game, provided maximum entertainment to the capacity crowd.
The hard-hitting senior-most batsman in the Indian team, Yuvraj Singh, once again enthralled the 45,000-strong crowd with his delightful stroke-play as he took India to a memorable 11-run win over Pakistan. For cricket fans, the match was worth 10 times what they had to pay for the tickets even if they had to buy them in black.
The contribution of the crowd was acknowledged by Yuvraj who said: “The crowd was amazing here. They supported us vocally. The buzz around the entire stadium was amazing.”
Chasing a steep target of 193, Pakistan could manage only 181 runs in their allotted quota of 20 overs as the home team defeated the guests in a nail-biting finish.
The house full crowd roared, did a Mexican wave, and erupted in sheer joy as the comeback kid, Yuvraj Singh, whose love affair with Motera continues, kept sending the ball flying over the ropes. Some lost their voice cheering, and some forgot they were hungry.
The swashbuckling lefthander was at his imperious best during his knock of 72 (36 balls) with a staggering strike rate of 200. He didn’t finish there. He also picked up the wicket of Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad to finish off with bowling figures of one for 23 in two overs. He was declared man-of-the match for his effort and rightly so. His brilliant display of batting enabled India to level the current two-match T20i series against the neighboring nation.
The crowd, which had started pouring in from 12 noon, had its wish granted when Pakistani skipper Mohammed Hafeez asked India to bat first. Hafeez apparently did not want to bowl with a wet ball later in the evening.
India put on a mammoth total of 192 runs in 20 overs. However, due to outstanding ground fielding by Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane Pakistan could manage only 181, just 11 short of India’s total.