x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Yuvraj Singh raises his game at the right time for India

Two-match Twenty20 series was squared 1-1 after all-rounder hits 36-ball 72 and takes a wicket in 11-run victory over Pakistan in Ahmedabad.

Yuvraj Singh has been in excellent form with bat and ball. Arun Sankar K / AP Photo
Yuvraj Singh has been in excellent form with bat and ball. Arun Sankar K / AP Photo

Yuvraj Singh's spell practising in the nets was time well spent as his 36-ball 72 helped India to an 11-run victory over Pakistan in the second and final Twenty20 international in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad tonight.

The result meant the two-match series was squared 1-1, with Pakistan having won the first match in Bangalore on Christmas night by five wickets.

Yuvraj, the India all-rounder who has been in excellent form with both bat and ball in recent times, hit seven sixes and four boundaries against a Pakistan attack that is often considered one of the best in the shortest form of the game.

The southpaw, though, conceded he was not feeling all that comfortable the day before when he was batting in the nets. And that it was discomfort then that prompted him to bat with caution tonight before he could let loose.

"Yesterday [Thursday] I was batting in the nets and I couldn't middle a single ball, so I was trying to spend time in the middle," he said after being presented with the man-of-the-match award.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez asked India to bat having won the toss only for Ajinkya Rahane (28) and Gautam Gambhir (21) to put on a bright 44-run opening stand.

Umar Gul accounted for both men, bringing together Virat Kohli and Yuvraj.

Kohli made a steady 27 before being run out taking on Saeed Ajmal, but Yuvraj was irrepressible.

He hit two consecutive sixes off Sohail Tanvir, the left-arm fast bowler, and three more off the off-spinner Ajmal's next over.

The left-hander eventually holed out to fast bowler Gul, who also claimed the wicket of MS Dhoni (33) to finish with four for 37 from his four-over quota.

Pakistan started their chase confidently, Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad taking on the opening bowlers and laying a solid foundation of 74 in 9.4 overs before Jamshed fell to Ravichandran Ashwin for 41.

Shehzad followed, stumped off Yuvraj, an over later but Hafeez quickly altered the momentum.

He faced just 26 deliveries but struck six boundaries and three sixes, two off successive balls from Ashwin.

Ashok Dinda produced the decisive performance in the closing stages, accounting for Hafeez as well as both Umar and Kamran Akmal, the wicketkeeper-batsman. He finished with figures of three for 36.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who produced a stunning new-ball display on his international debut in Bangalore, also returned from a mediocre first spell to see off Shahid Afridi as the reply foundered to 181 for seven.

Hafeez was left to rue a poor bowling performance from his attack.

"When we were bowling, we didn't follow the basics; we bowled short of a length. The partnership between MS Dhoni and Yuvraj was the difference," the man of the series said.

Dhoni, whose captaincy in all forms of the game has come under criticism over the past year, was visibly happy as he praised his young team.

"I think they held their nerve nicely," he said.

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