Yuvraj Singh continued his affair with Motera with a majestic knock as India beat Pakistan by 11 runs in a high-octane encounter on Friday to level the two-match T20 series. The Punjab-da-Puttar’s scintillating 72 was studded with as many as seven sixes. Coming in at the fall of Ajinkya Rahane’s wicket in the seventh over, Yuvraj started off cautiously. But once he got his eyes in, he was in his zone.
It was Yuvraj all the way in the next 10 overs. So much so that he made Saeed Ajmal, the best T20 spinner this year, look ordinary. He hit Ajmal out of the park four times, thrice on the trot. Ajmal, somehow, didn’t get his length right and was on the shorter side on a slowish surface. Each time he strayed, Yuvraj deposited him over mid-wicket with ease.
He didn’t spare Tanvir either, knocking him over the ropes on a couple of occasions.
Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez looked baffled as Yuvraj, in the company of MS Dhoni, put together a decisive 97-run stand for the fourth wicket. Yuvraj did get a life when Sohail Tanvir failed to grab a difficult chance on his follow-through.
Dhoni batted with a lot of composure. Perhaps, the two had India’s collapse in Bangalore at the back of their minds, for they never allowed the Pakistan bowlers to bowl to a field. Both fell in the last over but, by then, India had done enough to rake up a huge 192 for five. Umar Gul (4/37) returned the best figures for Pakistan, but once again Mohammad Irfan was the most economical of all the bowlers.
Earlier, Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane got India off to a decent start. Gambhir (21) made his intentions clear as he slammed three successive fours off Gul in the fifth over. Gul had the last laugh as he trapped Gambhir in front with a well-disguised slower delivery. It wasn’t long before Rahane, too, made a long walk towards the dugout. But the texture of the Indian innings had been laid.
The Pakistan openers were more flamboyant than their counterparts. They got off to a flying start, with Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shahzad putting up 75 runs in 10 overs. It appeared that looked Hafeez would have his hands on the trophy. R Ashwin and Yuvraj had different ideas as they removed both the openers. Hafeez took the match to the wire with an imperious 55 off just 26 balls.
However, Ashok Dinda, expensive to start with, bowled a top penultimate over to tilt the match in India’s favour.