Yuvraj blasts as India set 388-run target for England

November 14th, 2008 - 3:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Rajkot, Nov 14 (IANS) Yuvraj Singh’s hurricane century took India to a formidable 387 for four against England in the first one-day international at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground here Friday.Yuvraj’s unbeaten 138 came in just 78 balls after Virender Sehwag (85) and Gautam Gambhir (52) led the charge from the word go.

England captain Kevin Pietersen’s decision to bat backfired as Sehwag and Gambhir gave a flying start adding 127 runs for the first wicket.

Then Yuvraj, overcoming a back problem, turned on the heat, clobbering the English attack in his elegant style. Six sixes and 16 boundaries came from his blade.

It was Yuvraj’s fastest hundred against England, while India’s total was the best against Engalnd, the previous being 329 at Bristol in 2007. It is also India’s highest total at home, and second highest overall.

The platform for Yuvraj’s fiery innings, however, was set by India’s openers early in the day. In the absence of seamer Ryan Sidebottom, Stuart Broad was entrusted to partner James Anderson with the new ball. But both were wayward in their first spells giving a chance to the Indian openers to start the run riot.

After 15 quiet deliveries, Gambhir stepped out and lifted Anderson over mid-on and then hit Broad for three fours in the sixth over. India cruised to 53 runs in ten overs and Pietersen took the second Powerplay immediately. After three good overs from Andrew Flintoff, which tied Sehwag, Pietersen turned to Samit Patel’s left-arm spin in the 13th over. But Sehwag was severe on him driving and hitting the spinner with disdain.

Sehwag smashed Patel for 15 runs off four balls in the 24th over before he was caught brilliantly by Ian Bell at midwicket. England needed something extraordinary to stop Sehwag, and they were relieved to see his back after a 73-ball 85.

Yuvraj, who played with his injured back strapped, pulled Steve Harmisson for three consecutive boundaries setting the tone for his blitzkrieg.

Yuvraj with Suresh Raina (43) added 89 runs off 78 balls for the third wicket. Raina fell after he scooped Andrew Flintoff to Paul Collingwood. Harmisson then picked up Yusuf Pathan, who didn’t trouble the scorers. But Yuvraj looked unperturbed and played scintillating shots and with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (39) ensured that England have an Everest to climb.

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