Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh team up to aid India's 3-0 series victory despite facing a stiff 198-run target
Sydney: Last-ball victories while chasing without MS Dhoni at the crease are a rare occurrence in Indian cricket. So when Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh achieved the feat of scoring 16 runs off the last six balls, it must have been a moment of great satisfaction in the India camp.
Yuvraj Singh (right) lifts Suresh Raina after India beat Australia in the third and final T20 international at Sydney yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
Raina has always batted in the middle order for India in T20s and was given the responsibility of finishing the innings. But for this T20 series, he had been rightly pushed up the batting order, a place where he has had most of his Indian Premier League success.
"We wanted Raina to bat in a position where he has played a lot, such as the IPL. Also, with the T20 World Cup in similar conditions, we want to cash in on his strength," said Dhoni.
The role must have given Raina much confidence. Apart from his adventurous slog sweep from the second ball he faced, he seemed to bat with perfect control. With Australia protecting his beloved mid-wicket boundary, Raina rarely tried his hoick over mid-wicket. Instead, he preferred to get inside the line of the ball and help it to fine leg. Raina's calmness at the end was the feature of his innings.
Meanwhile, the initial part of Yuvraj's innings would have brought back memories of his timid innings against Sri Lanka in the 2014 World T20 final. But Yuvraj has a knack of leaving the past behind and moving forward like he does in life, so when Andrew Tye bowled the next two balls on his middle stump, he whipped them away with ease for a four and a six.
In that World T20 innings, Yuvraj seemed under pressure to play the big shot and capitalise on his starts since he was batting at the top of the order. But this time around, he had a different role —to bat lower down and play without pressure. Dhoni at the end of the match stated, "With Yuvraj batting lower, we feel he can bat more freely with less pressure and it worked for him today."
The role of each player in the T20 series was clearly marked and that seems to have made a huge difference in confidence as Raina and Yuvraj showed in yesterday's famous win at the Sydney Cricket Ground.