Yuvraj stars in shortened gameAlex Crampton |
Today’s affair, reduced to 31 overs a side by rain, was dominated by the bowlers. Three batsman stood tall for their countries, however it was Yuvraj Singh and his Indian side who emerged victorious in damp Belfast.
Yuvraj came in with the top order having slumped to 38-3, the first time since their arrival in Ireland they haven’t done well. Pace bowlers Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel and Dale Steyn shared a wicket between them, to pair Yuvraj with his captain, Dravid.
Together, they did their best to steady the ship. Yuvraj’s fifty in the last game was rather streaky, and this one started no differently. It took a long time for us to see the confident, dominating Yuvraj we have to expect, but when we did, he was driving the ball forcefully to take India to the finish with six wickets to spare.
Dravid, before he was run out for 38, gave Yuvraj good company in a partnership of 70. Once he was gone, Mahendra Dhoni stayed in and scored 14 to prevent a collapse and nerve racking finish, allowing India to chalk up their first overseas series win since their memorable victory in England five years ago, which again Yuvraj played no small part in.
At one point, it looked as if India’s job with the chase would be a lot easier than it eventually turned out to be. Their top order also capitulated, as India’s medium pacers bowled excellently to reduce them to 28-4. Ajit Agarkar struck two early blows, finding enough swing to trap Morne Van Wyk in front, and finding some more to produce an absolute beauty, which beat Jacques Kallis all ends up.
The next two wickets came from Sourav Ganguly, dismissing AB De Villiers and JP Duminy with successive balls. South Africa weren’t done yet though, as Herschelle Gibbs and Justin Kemp dragged them towards respectability. They shared a 99-run stand, biding their time at first, before attacking India’s spinners, less suited to the conditions. Both had a share of luck, but made the most of it, as they took South Africa’s run rate up towards five an over. The partnership was ended, with both making half centuries, and South Africa totalled 148-7 from their 31 overs, which a fine innings from Yuvraj would prove not to be enough.
South Africa 148-7
Justin Kemp 61, Herschelle Gibbs 56
Sachin Tendulkar 2-10, Ajit Agarkar 2-21, Sourav Ganguly 2-24
Yuvraj Singh 59*, Rahul Dravid 38
Makhaya Ntini 1-18
India win by six wickets
Cricket Web Man of the Match: Yuvraj Singh