AHMEDABAD (India), Dec 28: Yuvraj Singh cracked a dazzling 72 before the Indian bowlers staged a brilliant recovery at the death overs as the home side clinched a nerve-wracking 11-run victory over Pakistan in the second Twenty20 International to level the series 1-1 here on Friday.
India posted a competitive 192-5 riding on Yuvraj’s 36-ball-knock that included seven huge sixes and four fours, and then restricted the rivals to 181-7 with the bowlers finding their bearings just in the nick of time. Paceman Ashok Dinda scalped three for 36 including the important wicket of Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez (55) in the penultimate over to turn the tide in India’s favour at the jam-packed Sardar Patel Stadium.
At one stage, Pakistan seemed to be well and truly on course to overhaul India’s challenging target but Dinda and Ishant Sharma kept their cool during the death overs to seal the issue in hosts’ favor. Needing 20 runs off the final over bowled by Sharma, Umar Gul and Shoaib Malik could manage only eight runs much to the delight of the home crowd and Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni whose leadership has been under the scanner for some time now.
Apart from Hafeez, who scored his runs off only 26 balls with six fours and three sixes, openers Nasir Jamshed (41) and Ahmed Shehzad (31) were the other notable contributors for the visitors I a fine partnership of 74 inside the opening 10 overs.
Hafeez came in at the fall of Ahmed’s wicket and took the Indian attack to the cleaners hitting five fours and three sixes. The two shots that stood out was a scoop off Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s bowling once he saw that the fine leg was up. The second was a six over extra cover off Sharma. He also hit a couple of boundaries off Dinda and the equation suddenly changed.
When Umar Akmal was clean bowled by Dinda, the pair had added 62 runs in 5.3 overs. The Pakistan captain completed his back-to-back half century with a smash past the bowler. Hafeez completed the landmark in 23 deliveries with five fours and three sixes.
Shahid Afridi hit a four and six in his customary style before he was caught by Rohit off Kumar, who lad learnt a tough lesson as he finished with poor figures of 1-46 in four overs.
As the match looked like slipping away from India’s grasp, Dinda dismissed Hafeez and Kamran Akmal with slower deliveries to set up an exciting final over after which Sharma wrapped up the proceedings.
Earlier, Yuvraj’s career-best T20 knock could not have come at a more opportune time as it lifted India to a defendable total after being pegged back by three quick strikes. With skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (33) he added 97 for the fourth wicket as India posted their highest total against Pakistan in T20 Internationals. Saeed Ajmal bore the brunt of Yuvraj’s fury as the Indian creamed four sixes off him with three coming in a row in the 19th over, which yielded 22 runs.
Yuvraj was out in the last over off paceman Umar Gul, who was the most successful bowler for Pakistan with four wickets for 37 runs.
India openers provided a fiery start, adding 44 runs inside five overs, but neither Gautam Gambhir (21) nor Ajinkya Rahane (28) could build on that.
The teams now prepare to clash in the three-match One-day International series with the first game scheduled for Chennai on Sunday.—Agencies
INDIA: G. Gambhir lbw b Umar Gul 21 A.M. Rahane c and b Umar Gul 28 V. Kolhi run out 27 Yuvraj Singh c Malik b Umar Gul 72 M.S. Dhoni b Umar Gul 33 S.K. Raina not out 1 R.G. Sharma not out 4 EXTRAS (LB-5, NB-1) 6 TOTAL (for five wkts, 20 overs) 192 FALL OF WKTS: 1-44, 2-53, 3-88, 4-185, 5-187. DID NOT BAT: R. Ashwin, B. Kumar, I. Sharma A.B. Dinda. BOWLING: Mohammad Irfan 4-0-20-0; Sohail Tanvir 4-0-44-0; Umar Gul 4-0-37-4 (1nb); Saeed Ajmal 4-0-42-0; Shahid Afridi 3-0-33-0; Mohammad Hafeez 1-0-11-0. PAKISTAN: Nasir Jamshed c Kohli b Ashwin 41 Ahmed Shehzad st Dhoni b Yuvraj 31 Umar Akmal b Dinda 24 Mohammad Hafeez c Raina b Dinda 55 Shahid Afridi c R.G. Sharma b Kumar 11 Kamran Akmal c Kohli b Dinda 5 Shoaib Malik not out 3 Umar Gul c Rahane b I. Sharma 5 EXTRAS (LB-2, W-4) 6 TOTAL (for seven wkts, 20 overs) 181 FALL OF WKTS: 1-74, 2-84, 3-146, 4-163, 5-168, 6-172, 7-181. DID NOT BAT: Sohail Tanvir, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan. BOWLING: Kumar 4-0-46-1 (2w); I. Sharma 4-0-34-1 (1w); Dinda 4-0-36-3; Ashwin 4-0-28-1; Raina 2-0-12-0; Yuvraj Singh 2-0-23-1. RESULT: India won by 11 runs; two-match series drawn 1-1. UMPIRES: S. Asnani and V.A. Kulkarni (both India). TV UMPIRE: C. Shamsuddin (India). MATCH REFEREE: R.S. Mahanama (Sri Lanka). MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Yuvraj Singh. MAN-OF-THE-SERIES: Mohammad Hafeez. FIRST MATCH: Bangalore, Pakistan won by five wickets.