RP sings, Yuvi makes Lanka hop
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RP sings, Yuvi makes Lanka hop

Yuvraj Singh's unbeaten 79 helped India win the sixth ODI by seven wickets. Full Scorecard

india Updated: Nov 10, 2005 02:19 IST

Virender Sehwag maintained his hundred per cent success rate as India captain on Wednesday. Leading the country for only the second time after Rahul Dravid had been given a break, he shepherded his resources well, made the right bowling changes and used the Power Plays at one go, all very effectively.

The bowlers responded well after Sehwag called correctly at the toss and chose to field. Just as in the previous games, where youngsters rose to the occasion with sterling displays, it was the turn of 19-year-old Rudra Pratap Singh to put his hand up at the Madhavrao Scindia ground.

Appearing in only his third one-day international, the Uttar Pradesh left-arm medium-pacer picked up a career best four for 35 from 8.5 overs to help India bowl Sri Lanka out for a lowly 196 in 42.5 overs. His effort, which won him the Man-of-the-Match award, was instrumental in India winning convincingly by seven wickets and extending their lead in the series to 5-1.

India had little problem in reaching the target. Yuvraj Singh, whose presence in the series -- since he had not been among the runs – had aroused suspicion, justified the faith of coach Greg Chappell with a match-winning 79 not out from only 67 balls, with nine fours and three sixes.

It was an overwhelming response by the Indians after being at the receiving end in Ahmedabad on Sunday. All credit to RP Singh for bowling his heart out on a batsman-friendly pitch. He never shirked responsibility. He extracted bounce from the dry surface and foxed Lanka’s top order with lateral movement. He rarely gave the opposition room to play their shots.

Singh forced opener Upul Tharanga, who was cautious after having seen the dismissals of Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara, to edge to Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He later induced captain Marvan Atapattu to play a false stroke, driving straight to Sehwag at mid-on. Singh’s first spell read a sensational 5-2-19-2. He came back in the final overs to polish off the tail, leaving Lanka bruised with 7.1 overs unutilised.

India kept the Lankans on a tight leash throughout. Their bowlers were miserly in the middle overs. After Singh impressed in his opening burst, it was left to slow bowlers Murali Kartik and Harbhajan Singh to contain the 1996 World Cup champions. Kartik bowled his 10 overs on the trot and was replaced by Super-Sub Suresh Raina after 36 overs.

Kartik bowled beautifully, beating the batsmen with his turn, the most pleasing being the manner in which he drew Mahela Jayawardene out with his first ball for Dhoni to effect a marvellous stumping.

Harbhajan teased the batsmen no end. He was unlucky not to take a wicket but his team could not have asked for a better return from the 25-year-old Sardar of Spin. He beat the batsmen repeatedly with his orthodox bowling, occasionally with his away-going delivery, and induced bat-pad nicks which would have been catches in the longer version of the game.

Lanka, however, had Tillekaratne Dilshan (59, 63b, 9x4) to rescue them from the doldrums. The right-hander notched up his third successive half-century of the rubber. He did not curb his natural instincts even though his side had very little to show.

He scored at a quick pace, reaching his 50 off 53 balls with eight boundaries. However, just when Lanka were depending on him for a competitive total, Dilshan perished, unable to challenge a direct hit by Yuvraj Singh at the non-striker's end. Upul Chandana (30) batted through with the lower order but did not receive any support. The Lankans had only themselves to blame for not making use of a typical one-day pitch.

In their chase, India were positive from the word go, Gautam Gambhir going hammer and tongs against the new-ball bowlers. Though the top three of Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar and Sehwag got starts, none of them made it big, and it was destined for Yuvraj to play a sparkling knock.

Yuvraj, who had collected only 45 runs from four previous visits to the crease in the Videocon Cup series, more than doubled his tally from this one knock. The Punjab left-hander looked ferocious with the bat. He plundered the Lankan Lions -- leg-spinner Chandana and off-spinner Dilshan in particular, were hit to all corners of the park.

He showed sublime touch with authentic shots in front of the wicket. With things not going Lanka's way, Yuvraj hurt them more with three glorious sixes, one each off Chandana, Dilshan and Dilhara Fernando.

Yuvraj put a priceless tag on his wicket. He was in such top form that even the presence of ace off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, forced to pull out after hurting his hamstring in the morning, would hardly have helped Lanka's cause.

Yuvraj flourished in the company of his close friend from the India under-19 days, Mohammad Kaif. Returning to the team after being hamstrung for the first five matches, Kaif was content watching Yuvraj play those delightful strokes, and his contribution in the unbroken fourth-wicket partnership of 105 -- which came off only 112 balls -- was just 21.

First Published: Nov 09, 2005 09:25 IST