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HindustanTimes Sun,13 Jul 2014
Yuvraj sting has Pakistan smarting
Subhash Rajta, Hindustan Times
Ahmedabad, December 29, 2012
First Published: 00:08 IST(29/12/2012)
Last Updated: 10:26 IST(29/12/2012)
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

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.

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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.

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