Yuvraj blitz helps India level series

India win by 11 runs at Motera after posting a massive 192.

Scorecard | Selectors miffed | 'Hard work paid off' | Flashback 2012

Man of the Match Yuvraj Singh. (File Photo)AHMEDABAD: Yuvraj Singh’s six-hitting spree helped set up India’s 11-run win over Pakistan in the second Twenty20 International at Motera here on Friday, and helped the hosts equalize the series at one game apiece. After the left hander’s rapidfire 72 had taken India to a mammoth 192/5 on a flat track, Pakistan relented to a spiraling asking rate. Although their openers gave them a solid foundation and skipper Mohammad Hafeez’s indomitable (55) kept them in the hunt, India managed to hold it together to effect a much-needed win ahead of the three-match ODI series.

Ashok Dinda bowled well at the death. His second spell read 2-0-12-3 as he conceded just six in the 17th over of the innings when Hafeez was going berserk, and snared the Pakistan captain when 25 were needed in 11 balls.  Another wicket in the same over – of Kamran Akmal – effectively ended the chase. Dinda finished with three wickets for the match, while Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, who had starred with the ball in the first game at Bangalore, was given a cruel introduction to the vagaries of the game as he was hit for 46 in his four. Off-spinner R. Ashwin came back into the side and bowled economically, also getting India the crucial breakthrough when the openers were going strong. Yuvraj was named Man of the match while Hafeez was declared  Man of the Series.

Yuvraj runs amok

It was all about Yuvraj and his highest T20I score when India were sent in to bat. He brutalized Pakistan for seven sixes as skipper Dhoni watched admiringly from the other end. The two added 97 at 13 runs per over for the fourth wicket, setting India up for a massive 192. The southpaw’s 72 was his highest Twenty score and he gained 42 of those runs targeting the region between deep midwicket and long on, swinging all his maximums over the area.

After a tight bowling performance at Bangalore, Pakistan found the going tough on a flat Motera pitch. Left-arm giant Mohammad Irfan was the sole exception, bowling his four for 20 when almost everyone else was going at above nine. Yuvraj saved his most vicious blows for the death. The wrong-footed Sohail Tanvir was mauled for 18 in the 19th over, including two towering sixes over the southpaw’s preferred zone, and trump card Saeed Ajmal was massacred for 22 in the next – three leg side sixes speckling the over like zits on the face. This was after the southpaw had had his toes crushed by the hulking Irfan early in his knock.

Yuvraj was out with four balls remaining in the innings, caught at the boundary off Umar Gul as he tried to butcher the fast bowler back over his head. Dhoni too was out in the last over, but by then he had performed his role to perfection, granting Yuvraj the strike and finding the boundary regularly to keep his end of the bargain. The skipper’s 23-ball 33 contained a murderous pull off Gul that snapped hurriedly to the mid wicket fence.

Solid start 

Sent in to bat by Hafeez, India were quick off the blocks through Ajinkya Rahane and Gautam Gambhir, who for once outscored his younger partner and looked comfortable in the process of getting runs. The left-hander had pilfered three fours in Gul’s fifth over of the innings when he was trapped in front by a wily change of pace. Gul claimed the other opener in his next over – a soft dismissal with Rahane toe-ending the ball back for an easy return catch.

Virat Kohli sparkled in his short stay. He straight drove Irfan in textbook fashion and clubbed Afridi back over his head in keeping with the mien of the format. The Delhi batsman had made a quick 27 when he was run out responding to a tight call from Yuvraj as Saeed Ajmal rattled in a direct hit from short fine leg. India were 88/3 in 12 overs when Yuvraj ahd Dhoni got their thing together.

Hafeez  explodes

Pakistan made a solid start, the openers adding 74 in under 10 overs, before Ashwin - in the side for Ravindra Jadeja - struck. Nasir Jamshed (41) and Ahmed Shehzad (31) had carted India’s three-prong seam attack with disdain, and it took the introduction of the spinners to check the flow of runs. Ashwin and Suresh Raina kept things tight and Jamshed even got a reprieve when his inside edge was dropped by Dhoni behind the wicket. The lapse did not prove costly as Ashwin removed the left-hander in the same over, via a loose cut that was pouched by Virat Kohli at point. Pakistan needed 119 to win in the last 10 overs, but lost another key wicket to Yuvraj’s left-arm spin when Shehzad was stumped smartly by the skipper down the leg side.

This brought Umar Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez to the middle. The visiting captain wasted no time. He cleared his front leg for successive sixes against Ashwin  and when the pacers returned for their second spells smacked consecutive fours off Dinda and biffed Ishant for maximum over cover drove. The ask was 47 in the last four, when Dinda uprooted Umar Akmal’s middle stump with a slower ball. He went on to concede just six as Hafeez was joined by Afridi, who opened his account with a pulled four.  Afridi swung another six against Bhuvaneshwar Kumar in the next over, but holed at long off next ball. The skipper meanwhile kept ticking and brought up his fifty in just 23 balls with a boundary, but his dismissal signaled the end of the pursuit.

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