Yuvraj’s blazing knock carries India to a massive victory (Lead)

November 14th, 2008 - 7:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Rajkot, Nov 14 (IANS) A blazing unbeaten century by Yuvraj Singh inspired India to a huge 158-run win over England in the first of the seven One-Day Internationals for the Hero Honda Cup at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground here Friday.Yuvraj’s hurricane 138 runs off 78 balls saw India post a formidable 387 for four and in reply England were bowled out for 229 in 37.4 overs after skipper Kevin Pietersen hit a fighting 63 and Ravi Bopara remained unbeaten with 54.

England captain Pietersen’s decision to bat backfired as vice-captain Virender Sehwag (85) and Gautam Gambhir (51) gave India a flying 127-run start.

Then Yuvraj, overcoming a back problem, turned on the heat to clobber the English attack, cracking Six sixes and 16 fours in his inimitable style.

It was Yuvraj’s second hundred against England and India’s highest total against the visitors, the previous best being 329 at Bristol in 2007. It is also India’s second highest overall after the 413 for five against Bermuda in the 2007 World Cup at Port of Spain.

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

Gambhir began the fireworks, not Sehwag, when he stepped out to lift Anderson over mid-on and then hit Broad for three fours in the sixth over. India were cruising along when Pietersen called for the second Power Play. After three good overs from Andrew Flintoff, which tied down Sehwag, Pietersen turned to Samit Patel’s left-arm spin in the 13th over. But Sehwag was severe on him, 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 were relieved to see Sehwag’s 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, batting with Gambhir as runner, added 89 runs off 78 balls with Suresh Raina (43) 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 a steep mountain of runs to climb.

After their batsmen, it was the turn of Indian bowlers. Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel gave little away and by the time the two finished their first spells, England’s top order was demolished. By the 18th over the visitors were reduced to 76 for five.

Munaf was the first to strike, removing opener Matt Prior in the fourth over. Zaheer accounted for Ian Bell (25), Owais Shah and Andrew Flintoff (4) to return with figures of 3-26 from seven overs.

Pietersen then batted in his inimitable style. He hit a wayward Rudra Pratap Singh for three fours in the bowler’s second over. With Samit Patel (28) he started to repair the innings and added 71-runs for the sixth wicket. Pietersen’s 56 ball in innings came to an end after he was run out by some good work by Rohit Sharma and Dhoni.

Bopara then provided a late fight-back with his quickfire 54 off 38 balls to give the side’s total some respectability.

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