Yuvraj on song as India take 2-0 lead (Lead)

November 17th, 2008 - 7:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Indore, Nov 17 (IANS) Yuvraj Singh is on a song. He not only continued his brilliant run with the bat by scoring his second successive century but he also came up trumps with the ball, claiming four wickets, as India beat England by 54 runs to take a 2-0 lead in the seven-match One-Day Hero Honda Cup series here Monday.With the bat, Yuvraj scored, second consecutive and 10th ODI century, a flamboyant 118 off 122 balls to pull India out of a hole and put 292 for nine in 50 overs. He then shone with the ball, too, picking up four for 28 from his 10 overs as England were bowled out for 238 runs in 47 overs.

Electing to bat first, India were put on the back foot with triple strikes from fast bowler Stuart Broad that reduced the hosts to 29/3 in the eighth over.

But a scintillating knock from Man of the Match Yuvraj and opener Gautam Gambhir (70) pulled India out of the precarious position at the Maharani Usha Raje Stadium.

The duo knitted a valuable 134-run partnership for the fourth wicket and in the slog overs, Yusuf Pathan savaged the England attack to hoist a fifty to leave England with another challenging target on a dicey pitch.

England had India on the mat on an unpredictable pitch after a sensational first spell from Broad but they let the hosts get away with some wayward bowling later on.

Broad used the morning conditions cleverly and was rewarded with three crucial wickets — Virender Sehwag (1), Suresh Raina (4) and Rohit Sharma (3).

Sehwag dragged one on to his stumps, Raina top-edged for an easy catch to Samit Patel at square leg Rohit, promoted ahead of Yuvraj to keep the right-left combination going, failed to to keep the hook down and Owais Shah got under the it at square leg.

Skipper Kevin Pietersen tried to stifle the free-stroking Indians with a packed off-side field, but Gambhir beat his plan by improvising shots into the vacant spaces and even stepped out to loft Steve Harmison over square leg. Gambhir rotated the strike well to score his 13th half-century.

Yuvraj started edgily and took some time gauge the pace of the wicket. Once he got the measure of it, he cut loose, glancing Andrew Flintoff’s no-ball to the fine-leg boundary and pulling the resultant free hit into the stands for a big six. That set the tempo of his innings which was toned down in comparison to his Rajkot blitzkrieg.

He brought up his half-century by flicking Harmison powerfully to the midwicket boundary and by the half-way mark, he was in supreme touch.

England tried to salvage some pride at the end of the innings by dismissing Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj in quick succession. But a late flurry of shots by Pathan, whose 29-ball innings included four sixes, helped India set a tough target for England.

The chase was always going to be tough for the visitors and it started on a poor note as opener Ian Bell (1) was run out by a direct hit by Raina in the first over.

Owais Shah (38) and Matt Prior (58) then added 96 runs for the second wicket to get the innings back on the rails. Just when the partnership looked like posing a serious threat, Yuvraj trapped Owais leg before in the 24th over and in his next he struck again to remove Prior.

Pietersen and Flintoff then batted with greater urgency and purpose. Pietersen took the Power Play after the 32nd over and that allowed Flintoff the licence to run amock by smashing Harbhajan for three sixes. Pietersen followed suit by hitting the off-spinner for another six and the third Power Play produced 59 runs, bringing the equation to 110 off 13 overs.

Dhoni once again turned to Yuvraj and the left-arm spinner obliged him by dismissing Flintoff and Pietersen in the space of three balls to more or less end the England fight. At 184 for five, it was a matter of time for the Indian bowlers to clip the tail.

Samit Patel (20) and Stuart Broad (22) provided some late resistance but Sehwag dismissed both and returned with figures of 3/28 from his five overs to seal the match in India’s way. Come to think of it, back-up spinners Yuvraj and Sehwag claimed seven wickets between them.

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