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India beat England by 18 runs

England crumble under the pressure of a huge target of 219 as Yuvraj Singh slams the tournament's fastest fifty.

cricket Updated: Sep 26, 2007 18:45 IST
Amol Karhadkar

Can a 134-run opening stand in less than 15 overs be overshadowed? Well, if someone hits six sixes in an over, as Yuvraj Singh did on Wednesday against England in India’s must-win World Twenty20 Super Eight match on Wednesday, it would overshadow everything that happens on that day, including the result of the match.

It was unbelievable. Yuvraj walked in to bat with 20 balls left in India’s innings. And when he was caught at long-on off the penultimate ball of the innings, he had scored 58 runs off just 17 balls. He had scored the fastest fifty ever in international cricket, taking just 12 balls to reach the mark.

And the mesmerising moment came in the 19th over, bowled by Stuart Broad. Yuvraj hit the first ball out of the ground over long-on. The next one was pitched up and Yuvraj flicked it off his leg over the backward square leg fence. The third one, Yuvraj made room for himself and blazed it over covers.

<b1>At that moment, even Yuvraj would have thought of hitting at least five, if not six, to erase the blot that he had exactly two weeks ago when England’s Dimitri Mascarenhas hit the Punjab left-hander for five successive sixes at the Oval.

In came Broad again and bowled a full toss outside the off stump. Not a surprise that it landed over the point fence. The fifth ball was crucial and Yuvraj, down on his knees, skied it and Andrew Flintoff could remain a mute spectator at deep midwicket. Then, Yuvraj was just one hit away from joining the exalted list of Gary Sobers, Ravi Shastri and Herschelle Gibbs, who had achieved the same feat in top-class cricket earlier. While the first two did it in first-class cricket, Gibbs was the only one to do it in international cricket when he hit the Netherlands’ Dan van Bunge for six sixes in the World Cup.

And Broad, hoping that he won’t join Malcolm Nash, Tilak Raj and Bunge in the list of fateful bowlers, ran in and saw the ball hovering over the long-on boundary. Yuvraj had done it. What a way to register the fastest international fifty as well! And Shastri couldn’t wait to hug Yuvraj as soon as the innings got over.

This knock soared India’s total, after a 134-run opening stand between Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in less than 15 overs, to 218. And England’s valiant run chase was always going to fall short. They could manage 200 for 6. The 18-run victory margin also meant that even if India manage a narrow win against South Africa on Thursday they will be in the semis.