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Yuvraj?s flamboyance see India find faith

Dravid should be delighted to see Yuvraj Singh score some quality runs, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2007 04:41 IST

Victory always tastes sweet, but for Rahul Dravid's team, Saturday's was sweeter. Not only would it help India leave for the World Cup on the high of winning two series, the skipper would also be happy to note that his batsmen fired in unison after some time. It is another matter that the conditions were heavily in favour of the batsmen.

Dravid should be delighted to see Yuvraj Singh score some quality runs, which put to rest speculations over the state of his left knee. It was the Punjab powerhouse's awesome batting which blew away Sri Lanka in the series-decider after the earlier batsmen had laid a perfect platform.

Dew delayed the start of the match, having rendered the outfield soggy, but that did not dampen the spirits of the full house. Their joy was heightened by a Sri Lankan top-order collapse and the following mesmerising flurry of shots by the Indians.

The knock of the match though came from a Sri Lankan. Playing his first match of the series, Chamara Silva scored a sparkling century under pressure, which lifted his team from the early mess. It was a display of crafty and powerful hitting that was of course pushed to the backseat later.

With all eyes on Virender Sehwag after Sourav Ganguly returned to the pavilion in the first over with a thigh strain and dizziness, Robin Uthappa stole the show. In an incessant flow of bold strokes, he negated whatever advantage the visitors could have had with the new ball. A pull off Fervez Maharoof and a hooked six off Lasith Malinga showed he is ready for the challenges in the world of big boys.

Sehwag played himself in and was set for a big one, but he paid for a moment of carelessness that was unbecoming of a professional sportsman. He strolled towards the other end after playing to third-man and was doing some shadow practice instead of grounding his bat when Kumar Sangakkara threw down the stumps.

In walked Dinesh Karthik at No. 4 and left before making an impact. Since he stands little chance of playing in that position in the World Cup, this decision seemed strange and reminded one of the experiments with Suresh Raina which eventually led to his exit.

What followed was India's biggest gain from this match. Yuvraj had looked good during his brief stay in the middle in the previous game, but his first substantial innings after surgery could not have come at a better time. He drove with the firmness that had made him the team's mainstay before the injury and the punch he packed in his shots showed he is again ready for that role.

True, the pitch was too good, the ground was small and the bowlers had been battered into submission before he had come in, but the way Yuvraj tore into the attack was remarkable.

His partner in the match-winning partnership, another lefty, too proved he is back at the top. Ganguly was not all grace like he usually is and came out after Karthik's dismissal with an urge to dominate. Dilhara Fernando's bouncer was pulled away for six and it was vintage Ganguly when he stepped out to lift the spinners high into the stands.

The Sri Lankans had themselves to blame for the early trouble. The openers were looking comfortable against the new ball with Sanath Jayasuriya threatening to cut loose. Having struck Zaheer Khan for a six and a four in the seventh over, he fell in the next, driving straight into the hands of cover.

From 42 for one Sri Lanka slipped to 56 for four following a few more acts of indiscretion.

They recovered with Silva sharing three important partnerships but the total was never going to be enough. What followed can give us an idea of who will enjoy the psychological edge when the teams meet again on March 23, in a World Cup group league match.

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First Published: Feb 17, 2007 08:55 IST