Motera T20: Yuvraj's blitz sinks Pakistan; India level series
Yuvraj Singh scintillating innings and a better bowling display helped India beat Pakistan by 11 runs and level the two-match T20 series 1-1 at Motera on Friday.
Pakistan's highest total in a chase is 178 for 2, against Bangladesh in Pallekele in 2012 and though they managed to go past that score, it was still too little. The visitors ended on 181 for 7.
Paceman Ashok Dinda scalped three for 36 including the important wicket of rival captain Mohammed 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' favour.
Needing 20 runs off the final over bowled by Ishant, Umar Gul and Shoaib Malik could manage only eight runs much to the delight of the home crowd and 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.
Pakistan captain Hafeez came in at the fall of Shehzad'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 Ishant's bowling.
He also hit a couple of boundaries off Ashok Dinda and the equation suddenly changed. When Umar Akmal was cleaned 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.
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 Ishant wrapped up the proceedings.
Pakistan started their chase in right earnest as openers Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad added 74 runs for the opening stand. But Ashwin's introduction into the attack slowed down proceedings. Skipper Dhoni dropped Jamshed on 40 off Ashwin but the opener couldn't capitalise on the life as he tried to hit the offie over point only to hole out to Virat Kohli for 41.
Yuvraj, who could do no wrong today, was greeted with straight six by Umar but he got Shehzad stumped as the batsman was trying to give him the charge. Shehzad scored 31 off 29 balls with three boundaries and a six.
Earlier, an on-fire Yuvraj SIngh decimated the Pakistan attack to help India score 192/5 from its 20 overs.
It was a vintage Yuvraj on display as he toyed with the highly rated Pakistan bowlers hitting them for seven sixes on his way to 72 off just 36 balls.
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.
From the time Yuvraj arrived in the middle, Pakistani bowlers bled runs as the left-hander plundered seven huge sixes and four boundaries in his 36-ball blitzkrieg to entertain a jam-packed house.
India before Yuvraj's blitz was looking at a score of around 150, but his billigerence changed the complexion of the game with the last five overs yielding 74 runs.
With skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (33) he added 97-runs for the fourth wicket as India put on board its highest total against Pakistan in T20s.
Pakistan spinner 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 India 22 runs.
Yuvraj was out in the last over off paceman Umar Gul, who was the most succesful bowler for Pakistan with four wickets at the expense of just 37 runs.
Earlier, 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 two openers were in good touch, driving and cutting elegantly. Rahane found boundries on the off-side despite facing a packed off-side field and also flicked confidently.
Gambhir was in much better form than Bangalore and his drives off Sohail Tanvir was a treat to watch but Gul removed both of them in space of two overs.
Earlier, Dhoni's losing spree at the toss continued as Pakistan called right and decided to bowl first.
Speaking after winning the toss, Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez said that he decided to ball first because the pitch looked like it would initially help the seam bowlers.
India made one change from the previous match bringing in R Ashwin in place of Ravindra Jadeja. Pakistan are playing an unchanged team.
Brief Scores: India: 192 for five in 20 overs (Yuvraj Singh 72, Mahendra Singh Dhoni 33; Umar Gul 4/37).
Pakistan: 181 for seven in 20 overs (Mohammad Hafeez 55, Nasir Jamshed 41, Ashok Dinda 3/36).
Pakistan XI: Mohammad Hafeez (c), Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal (wicket-keeper), Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan
Indian XI: G Gambhir, AM Rahane, V Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, SK Raina, RG Sharma, MS Dhoni*†, Ashwin , B Kumar, I Sharma, AB Dinda