Yuvraj & India target Ajmal to level T20 series
Pakistan’s ploy of giving Umar Gul an extra over earlier proved costly as India beat their rivals in their second T20 match to level the two-match Twenty20 series with an exciting 11-run win in Ahmedabad.
The pacer had bowled three of his four overs by the 16th over which meant captain Mohammad Hafeez had to use Saeed Ajmal at the death. Yuvraj Singh creamed 22 runs, including three successive sixes in the penultimate Ajmal over, to take his side to an imposing 192-5.
Yuvraj, who hit 72, said: “I think their best bowler Umar Gul finished one of his four overs early. The one that he was to bowl at the death. So Mahendra Singh Dhoni and I knew that one over would be bowled by a spinner and we would target him.”
Having levelled the series at 1-1, Dhoni lauded his team-mate’s effort in Ahmedabad. “Yuvi was at his best, those big sixes and fours really helped us in the end. We got 10 runs more than what we would have been happy with,” Dhoni said.
Pakistan skipper Hafeez felt his bowlers lacked the discipline. “When we were bowling, we didn’t follow the basics, we bowled short of a length,” he said.
Yuvraj and Ashok Dinda had earlier starred with bat and ball respectively, the former seeing the hosts to 192-5 with 72 in 36 balls. Dinda then took up the battle taking 3-36, including Pakistan’s top-scorer Mohammed Hafeez for 55.
Hafeez put in India having won the toss only for Ajinkya Rahane (28) and Gautam Gambhir (21) to put on a bright 44-run opening stand. But after Umar Gul accounted for both men, in came Virat Kohli and Yuvraj.
Kohli made a steady 27 before being run out taking on Saeed Ajmal but Yuvraj was irrepressible. He scored at exactly two a ball, plundering seven sixes and four boundaries, including two maximums in a row off Sohail Tanvir and three more off Saeed Ajmal’s next over.
The partnership with his captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was central to the Indian charge as they added 97 runs off 44 balls for the fourth wicket. He eventually holed out to Gul, who also claimed the scalp of Dhoni (33) to finish with 4-37.
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 Ashwin balls.
Dinda produced the decisive performance in the closing stages, accounting for Hafeez as well as both Umar and Kamran Akmal. Dinda was at the receiving end of a last-ball six that sealed victory for England in their T20 against India less than a week ago, but he came back well despite being put under pressure early in each of his two spells (1-0-13-0 and 1-0-11-0).
Bhuvneshwar Kumar also returned to see off Shahid Afridi as Pakistan foundered to 181-7. The conditions in Ahmedabad were pitted against the seamers, with no movement on offer and thereby forcing them to rely on variations to contain the batsmen.