Yuvraj Singh smashed 13 mighty sixes en route to 172 as the Indians swept to a comfortable win in their practice match against a Sri Lankan invitation eleven. The number 13 is unlucky for most but for Yuvraj it’s one more than his lucky 12. Born on the 12th day of the 12th month of the year, at 12 pm, living in Chandigarh’s Sector 12 and wearing the No. 12 shirt for India, the powerfully built left-hander now also wears a winged tattoo on his right arm, which reads XII.
For the Sri Lankans, it was too much to handle as Yuvraj virtually single-handedly batted India to a monstrous 326 at a venue that’s not particularly known for big scores. The pitches in Sri Lanka tend to play low and slow, and with the ball gripping the surface and not coming on, it’s never easy to commit to big shots.
But commit Yuvraj did, especially against the hapless Jehan Mubarak, whose off-breaks were sent out of the park for four consecutive sixes. Fielders at midwicket, long on, straight down the ground and midwicket again, had no chance as the cleanly struck shots rained into empty stands.
On a day meant for practice the Indians achieved all they could have hoped to in a practice match. They wanted to get into the winning mode, and that box was ticked. They wanted to get a look at Virat Kohli, and he opened the batting and spent just over an hour at the crease for 23, even if not batting with 100 percent confidence at all times.
They wanted to give batsmen who had not taken part in the Tests —Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni and Yuvraj — a chance to spend some time in the middle in a match situation, and this happened. They wanted a good look at Pragyan Ojha, and he sent down 10 overs.
Victory by 92 runs will give the Indians some confidence but they know that sterner tests lie ahead. There were hints of what was to follow, in terms of conditions, with the pitch playing two-paced. Some balls skidded through, hurrying onto the bat while occasionally the ball stopped, forcing a false shot. There’s no denying that some of the batsmen struggled, Rohit was less than comfortable, and appeared rusty while Kohli only occasionally essayed the flowing drives that have thrust him into prominence.
What the match did show, though, was there was a way to play on these pitches, as Raina and Yuvraj did. Running between the wickets becomes crucial, and both batsmen showed that ones and twos are the best way to build momentum early. Once set, the big shots were on, and Yuvraj cashed in.
This ODI outfit is different from its Test counterpart and one of the significant pluses is the running between wickets and the fielding. On both counts India were on a strong footing. The other aspect that will play a decisive role, especially if stroke making is difficult and scores on the lower side, is partnerships, and India’s stands were 41, 32, 77, 85 and 109.
The win was significant only in that it allowed an international team to keep its reputation intact. What was more important was that the Indians extracted much of what they wanted from the exercise.