MS Dhoni and Mohammad Hafeez after the T20 cricket match between India and Pakistan hold up the national flags of their respective countries. HT/Satish Bate
Team India after winning the T20 cricket match against Pakistan at Sardar Patel Stadium, in Ahmedabad. HT/Satish Bate
Yuvraj Singh celebrates after dismissing Pakistan batsman Ahmed Shehzad during the second T20 cricket match between India and Pakistan at Sardar Patel Stadium, in Ahmedabad. ...
Pakistan’s Umar Akmal gets clean bowled by Ashok Dinda during the India vs Pakistan T20 match at Sardar Patel stadium, Ahmedabad. PTI
Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, actor Paresh Raval and Amit Shah watch the second T20 match between India and Pakistan in Ahmedabad. PTI
Ashok Dinda celebrates the dismissal of K Akmal during the second India vs Pakistan T20 match in Ahmedabad. PTI/Shirish Shete
MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh in action during the second T20 cricket match between India and Pakistan in Ahmedabad. HT/Satish Bate
Yuvraj Singh reacts after getting hit by a ball on his leg while playing a shot during the T20 cricket match between India and Pakistan in Ahmedabad. ...
Pakistan's bower Umar Gul celebrates after dismissing Ajinkya Rahane during the second T20 cricket match between India and Pakistan in Ahmedabad. HT/Satish Bate
Umar Gul celebrates after dismissing Gautam Gambhir during the second T20 cricket match between India and Pakistan in Ahmedabad. HT/Satish Bate
It was queer to see Mohammad Hafeez rush to his bowlers and MS Dhoni to Yuvraj Singh when the latter was on a six-hitting spree.
One could understand the battered bowlers needed words of encouragement from their captain to continue bowling to the on-fire left-hander, but what did the India skipper have to tell him at that time.
Maybe, he was simply excited and charged up, as was everyone else in the packed stadium. That's what Yuvraj does to people when he's in the mood.
The numbers sum up what he did on Friday - 72 runs off just 36 balls, a strike rate of 200, studded with seven towering sixes. Thanks to the superb knock, India piled up a massive 192 for five.
That should have ensured an easy win? Not quite, because Pakistan, supposedly poor chasers, gave it all they had and kept India and the partisan crowd on tenterhooks until the very last before falling short by 11 runs.
They had none else but their skipper Mohammad Hafeez to thank for that agonizingly close chase. His 26-ball 55 was as good as Yuvraj's knock. Pakistan had started to lag after a solid start, but within no time he set the run-rate galloping with some almost effortless yet crisp strokes.
As long as he was in the middle, the huge crowd went silent, keeping their fingers crossed. They started rooting again only when the skipper fell in the 19th over to Ashok Dinda.
"It was of course very disappointing to lose after coming so close but that's how it is. We are nonetheless very proud of how we approached and played this game," said Hafeez.
Yuvi did it
For him, as for everyone else, the difference between the two teams was Yuvraj. "He was exceptional, how he hit those strokes was simply breathtaking," he said.
Exceptional he was, especially against Saeed Ajmal, the world's best spinner at the moment. That four of the seven sixes he smashed off Ajmal, three in a row, shows how he dominated Pakistan's trump card and almost batted them out of the ground.
"I back myself to react with natural instincts. I try to watch the ball till the end. The problem with making plans early is that if the ball is not there to be hit, you'll get out," he said, when asked how he smashed Ajmal for those massive sixes.
The other highlight of the India innings was his 97-run partnership with Dhoni. The way the two kept the run rate steady in the middle overs before launching the final assault was impressive.
"Dhoni and I knew a spinner will have to bowl one over towards the end and we decided to target him," said Yuvraj. That spinner turned out to be Ajmal.
In the end, no team deserved to lose this game. But that doesn't happen in sport.