x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Yuvraj rests his case in run chase

Yuvraj Singh proved a point to critics who reckoned he could only play on fast pitches with an innings of 78 in India's victory over Australia in New Delhi on Saturday.

Yuvraj Singh came to his team's rescue on Saturday.
Yuvraj Singh came to his team's rescue on Saturday.

Yuvraj Singh proved a point to critics who reckoned he could only play on fast pitches with an innings of 78 in India's victory over Australia in New Delhi on Saturday. The six-wicket win gave India a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with the fourth game to be played in Mohali today. India were in a bit of trouble at 53 for three in the 16th over when Yuvraj, himself new at the crease, was joined by his captain MS Dhoni. The pair mixed caution with aggression on a slow pitch to take their side past the 200-run mark, while chasing Australia's total of 229 for five.

The left-hander was eventually dismissed by medium-pacer Moises Henriques, at which stage India were nearly home. But by then Yuvraj had made his point. India reached their target with 10 balls to spare. "I was a bit rusty at the start and it wasn't a good batting wicket," said Yuvraj who put on 148 with Dhoni (71 not out). "As the wicket was slow, I took some time before playing my strokes. "I had a point to prove as I've often faced criticism that I can't play on slow wickets or against spinners," he added.

The Australia captain Ricky Ponting was left to rue a missed opportunity to win after having seen the back of India's top order. "We had our moments but we were not good enough to capitalise," Ponting said. "The Indians bat low in their batting order and we needed to take another couple of wickets in the middle of the innings if we were to win the game." One factor in the Indian batsmen's favour was the presence of dew, which made it difficult for Ponting's bowlers to grip the ball. "There were only certain times in the innings when [off-spinner] Nathan Hauritz could bowl really effectively, the first couple of overs when he came on and when the ball was changed after 34 overs," Ponting said.

"Every other time the ball was slipping out of his hand. "But a lot of it had to do with the wicket as well. It was definitely better to bat on first and we didn't capitalise on that. We've lost two games in a row now and we certainly have to get our heads around that and get a quick turnaround. We've got only a day's gap before the next game, but we certainly are up for it. Hopefully we can pick it up in Mohali and score a few more runs," he added.

Meanwhile, with Shane Bond back in the team and firing on all cylinders, New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori is confident his bowling attack has the pace to match Pakistan's firepower in the forthcoming series, which gets underway tomorrow with the first of three one-dayers in Abu Dhabi. "Our pace attack won us the game against Pakistan in South Africa [in the Champions Trophy semi-final]," said Vettori.

"As captain of the side, it makes a difference for me to have him around because he is a quality player, a guy who you can throw a ball to at any time." "He is a strike bowler and that's something we've probably struggled with in our bowling attack." Bond returned to international cricket in June after spending more than a year away following his defection to the unofficial Indian Cricket League. "Shane believes that every game is important," added Vettori. "It's hard to take a game away from him, to try to rest him.

"So I think the biggest thing for him is just getting through games. I think he has proven that he is still a quality performer and he can still be a star on the stage." arizvi@thenational.ae