Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Dhoni blitz England to hand one-day series to India

Comeback man Singh rates his 150 as his best knock after combining forces with Dhoni to set up the host’s series clinching 15-run win

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 January, 2017, 11:10am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 January, 2017, 11:10am

Comeback man Yuvraj Singh rated the 150 against England as his best knock after he combined forces with Mahendra Singh Dhoni to set up India’s series clinching 15-run win in Cuttack on Thursday.

The 35-year-old Yuvraj and former captain Dhoni (134) put on 256 runs for the fourth wicket to help India post a mammoth 381-6 after being put into bat.

The hosts restricted England to 366-8 despite a breathtaking century by skipper Eoin Morgan, who smashed 102 off 81 balls. India took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

But the day belonged to Yuvraj and Dhoni, who turned back the clock during their epic partnership that came after India were reduced to 25 for three at Cuttack’s Barabati Stadium.

The left-handed Yuvraj, who is making a comeback in the ODI side after a gap of three years, surpassed his previous best of 139.

“Probably the best (knock) ... The higher you bat the more balls you get to play and getting 150 was a target in my career and I am very happy to get that,” Yuvraj, who was named man of the match, said.

Yuvraj, who last scored a hundred against West Indies in the 2011 World Cup, recorded his 14th ODI century as he smacked 21 fours and 3 sixes in a 127-ball knock.

In the process, he overtook the great Sachin Tendulkar’s record run tally in ODIs against England, and he has now accumulated 1,478 runs in 36 matches.

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“I wanted to prove a point to myself. It’s been a while, my career has been up and down,” Yuvraj, who played his 295th ODI, said of his 14-year international career.

Dhoni, 35, had a relatively sedate start, seeing out two maidens before boosting his confidence with a couple of boundaries.

The wicketkeeper-batsman, who survived a dropped catch on 43, made the most of the reprieve to post his 10th ODI hundred as he hit 10 fours and 6 sixes.

Yuvraj was caught behind off Chris Woakes, who ended up with four wickets, while Dhoni fell to Liam Plunkett but their departure was scant consolation to the England bowlers who were all carted around the park.

“Two of the greats stepping up as they have done so many times for Indian cricket,” said skipper Virat Kohli, who got out cheaply for eight.

“That’s what we envisioned when we got Yuvraj back in the side, that if these two bat together it’s going to do wonders for the team.”

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But it was not all that smooth for India as Morgan gave the home team a scare with his powerpacked innings which kept the crowd on its feet.

With England requiring 46 off the final three overs the visitors stood an outside chance but Morgan’s unfortunate run out in the penultimate over ended their hopes.

The left-handed batsman, who smashed 6 fours and 5 sixes for his 9th ODI century, put on a crucial 93-run sixth-wicket stand with Moeen Ali (55) to keep the chase alive.

But the pressure of keeping pace with the ever-increasing run rate finally got to the visiting side as Plunkett remained unbeaten on 26.

“We weren’t at our best again. It’s very disappointing to get so close and not over the line,” said a disappointed Morgan.

“We showed a lot of fight. We believed we could chase it down. There’s a tremendous amount of belief but we didn’t quite have the skill.”

Earlier Jason Roy (82) and Joe Root (54) also put on 100 runs for the second wicket to lay a solid foundation before Indian spinners struck back to dent the opposition’s hopes.

India’s premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin claimed three wickets.

The third and final ODI is scheduled in Kolkata on Sunday ahead of the three-match Twenty20 series.