Ballistic Yuvraj Powers India To 387: Marauding Sehwag, Gambhir And Yuvraj Send The English Bowlers On A Leather Hunt

Match Stats:

India 387 for 5 (Yuvraj 138*, Sehwag 85, Gambhir 51) v England in 50 overs.

England require another 388 runs with 10 wickets and 50 overs remaining at RR 7.81

Bowling card looked rather miserable.

JM Anderson 8 0 52 0 6.50 (3w)
SCJ Broad 10 0 74 0 7.40 (4w)
A Flintoff 10 0 67 1 6.70
SJ Harmison 10 0 75 2 7.50 (2w)
SR Patel 9 0 78 2 8.66
PD Collingwood 1 0 15 0 15.00
KP Pietersen 2 0 16 0 8.00 (1w)

First days as captain in India don’t get much worse. Kevin Pietersen’s decision to field because of an early morning start in Rajkot spectacularly backfired as India galloped out of the blocks and never looked back. What seemed a brave decision turned into an utter disaster with India posting 387 for 5 in 50 overs of ballistic stroke play. Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag added 127 for the first wicket, after which Yuvraj Singh overcame a stiff back to slam an unbeaten 138 from just 78 balls. It was the fastest ODI hundred against England, while India’s total was significantly higher than their previous best against this team, the 329 scored at Bristol in 2007, their highest total at home, and second highest anywhere.

England’s decision to field because of an early morning start in Rajkot was in danger of backfiring as India galloped out of the blocks. What seemed a brave decision from Kevin Pietersen turned into a potential disaster, with Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag posting a century opening stand. An expensive Samit Patel removed both half-centurions before the half-way mark – Sehwag fell 15 short of another audacious hundred – but not before an ominous platform had been laid.

In the absence of Ryan Sidebottom, Stuart Broad was entrusted the new ball alongside James Anderson. Both were wayward in their first spells and India started briskly. There is no margin for error when bowling to Sehwag, especially on a quick outfield, and he flicked Anderson and Broad towards the square-leg boundary when they strayed on to his pads. And when Broad offered the slightest bit of room outside off stump, third man retrieved the ball from the boundary.

After 15 quiet deliveries, Gambhir walked down and lifted Anderson over mid-on. He then hit Broad for three fours in the sixth over, the gentlest of open-faced steers – which took him past 2000 ODI runs – sandwiched between slaps down the ground. The understanding between the two Delhi batsmen was further evident with some smart tip-and-runs as well.

India had made 53 in ten overs and Pietersen took the second Powerplay immediately. After three overs from Andrew Flintoff, Pietersen turned to Samit Patel’s left-arm spin in the 13th over. Sehwag drove him inside-out through extra cover after which the batsmen took easy singles and doubles. The second Powerplay cost 40 runs.

Paul Collingwood, playing his 150th ODI, took the ball after the drinks break and Sehwag slammed his first two balls for six. The second shot, a disdainful sweep into the stands at midwicket, raised his fifty, from 44 balls, and India’s 200. Sehwag gave Patel scant respect, hitting consecutive boundaries.

Gambhir followed Sehwag to fifty, from 59 balls, but became the first casualty. Dancing down to Patel, he holed out to Owais Shah at long-off. Sehwag smashed Patel for 15 runs off four balls in the 24th over before he was splendidly caught by Ian Bell at midwicket. England needed something extraordinary to stop Sehwag, and they were relieved to see his back after a 73-ball 85.

By Arunava Das

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