- Yuvraj Singh during the ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup’s Super Eight match between India and Pakistan, Colombo, Sep. 30.
Yuvraj Singh, tormentor-in-chief of England in a recent Twenty20 mini-series, secured victory for India on Friday evening, this time against Pakistan.
The 31-year-old, who was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, blasted 72 runs from 36 deliveries in a scintillating innings that included seven sixes raining down on a delighted Ahmedabad crowd. His man-of-the-match performance also included the wicket of Pakistani opener Ahmed Shehzad.
Singh has bounced back after being dropped from India’s Test squad at the tail-end of the series loss to England, but his form in the shorter versions of the game has never really been in question. This is a phenomenal cricketer.
His brutal innings on Friday featured some of the best shots you’re ever likely to see, swatting Pakistan’s bowlers deep into the stands with an apparent ease that only comes to those blessed with the most exquisite timing. Saeed Ajmal was made to suffer the most – the man many regard as the world’s best spinner was struck for three sixes in a row by Yuvraj in the 18th over.
Yuvraj’s show-stopping innings, which had fine support from first Virat Kohli (27) and then Mahendra Singh Dhoni (33), pushed India to a daunting total of 192 for five.
That left Pakistan with a mountain to climb, but the visitors – playing the first bilateral series in India since the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008 – were in a positive mood after beating India in the first T20 in Bangalore on Christmas Day. That was the first time Pakistan had ever beaten India in a T20, and laid a platform for a famous mini-series victory on its great rival’s home patch.
But Yuvraj Singh had other plans, and by the time his innings was over, that supposed Pakistani platform had been smashed to smithereens. Even so, the visitors didn’t surrender, with the top four batsmen all going strong, particularly captain Mohammad Hafeez, who scored 55 from just 26 balls.
It wasn’t enough, though. Singh had done the damage and Pakistan ended 11 runs short of India’s total, on 181 for seven. Ashok Dinda was India’s top bowler, ending with three wickets for 36.
The T20 series ends 1-1, and now the two teams will face off in three One-Day Internationals, starting Sunday in Chennai. Pakistan will provide stern opposition, but the visiting team will be fearful of Yuvraj Singh when he comes out to bat again.
In the two T20s against England, it was Singh’s bowling that was a highlight, as he took a career-best three for 19 in the first match, only to beat that with three for 17 in the second. He reportedly dedicated his man-of-the-match award from the Dec. 20 game in Pune to the young woman who was gang-raped in Delhi a few days previously. She eventually succumbed to her injuries and died Saturday morning.
India also drew that series 1-1. Although Singh couldn’t lead his team to overall victory in either mini-series, he demonstrated beyond any doubt that he is back, fully recovered and perhaps the very best short format allrounder in the world.