Bangkok Post

Yuvraj masterclas­s as India rout Pakistan

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BIRMINGHAM: India captain Virat Kohli praised Yuvraj Singh’s “game-changing” quality after seeing his side launch their Champions Trophy title defence with a 124run rout of arch-rivals Pakistan at Edgbaston on Sunday.

Of the four batsmen that came to the crease as India piled up 319 for three in their rain-reduced 48 overs, three — Rohit Sharma (91), Kohli (81 not out) and Shikhar Dhawan (68) — all made more than Yuvraj’s 53.

Yet the way the experience­d lefthander — Sunday’s match was his 297th one-day internatio­nal — took just 32 balls to score his runs saw the 35-year-old named man-of-the-match.

His speed of scoring gave Kohli, who initially struggled for fluency, time to find his touch during a third-wicket partnershi­p of 93 in 59 balls that took a game of several rain interrupti­ons away from Pakistan.

In the end, Kohli was in complete command as India scored an astounding 72 runs in their last four overs, with Hardik Pandya hitting three successive sixes off left-arm spinner Imad Wasim just before the innings ended.

Yet some of Yuvraj’s shots were breathtaki­ng, particular­ly the way in which he drove a near yorker from paceman Hasan Ali down the ground for one of his eight fours.

“Yuvi’s innings, I think, was the gamechangi­ng innings,” Kohli told reporters.

“I felt like a club batsman while playing alongside Yuvi, the way he was hitting the ball. He took all the pressure off me and played the way only he can.”

It might all have been so different had Pakistan not dropped two relatively straightfo­rward catches when Yuvraj was on eight and Kohli on 43.

But there was no denying the way India rose to the occasion in front of a capacity crowd as they recorded their seventh straight win over Pakistan at an Internatio­nal Cricket Council global event.

Pakistan, by contrast, wilted in what is cricket’s most high-profile fixture, with an estimated television audience of a billion in addition to a capacity crowd of 24,000 that created a raucous atmosphere at Edgbaston.

This was Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur’s first direct involvemen­t in cricket’s fiercest rivalry, with Sunday’s match taking place in Birmingham — a city with one of the largest Asian population­s in Britain.

The South African, in common with players from both sides, had tried to downplay the fixture as no more important than any other game.

But that message did not get through to several members of Arthur’s team, with paceman Wahab Riaz losing the plot completely during a wicketless return of none for 87 in 8.4 overs which ended when the left-armer fell in his delivery stride and went off with an ankle injury.

But Arthur was angry at suggestion­s that Wahab had come into the match carrying an injury.

“Let’s get something straight first off. Wahab Riaz was fully fit. He went through a fitness test; he was declared fully fit,” Arthur insisted.

“He performed poorly and I’ll take the blame.”

BRIEF SCORES

India: 319 for 3 wkts in 48 overs (R Sharma 91, S Dhawan 68, V Kohli 81 not out, Yuvraj Singh 53)

Pakistan: 164 all out in 33.4 overs (Azhar Ali 50, Mohammad Hafeez 33; U Yadav 3-30, H Pandya 2-43, R Jadeja 2-43)

Result: India won by 124 runs (DLS method — target revised to 289 in 41 overs)

Man-of-the-match: Yuvraj Singh (IND)

 ?? REUTERS ?? India’s Yuvraj Singh in action against Pakistan.
REUTERS India’s Yuvraj Singh in action against Pakistan.

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