Sat, Nov 15, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Ruthless India crush England

BACK WITH A BANGYuvraj Singh shrugged off the disappointment of missing the Test series against Australia with a knock that included 16 boundaries and six sixes

AFP , RAJKOT, INDIA

Indian cricketer Virender Sehwag plays a shot during the first one-day international between India and England at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground in Rajkot, India, yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

England narrowly avoided their worst one-day defeat in terms of runs as India won the first game of a seven-match series by 158 runs yesterday.

Yuvraj Singh smashed an unbeaten 138 off 78 balls to lift India to their second highest one-day total of 387-5 after being sent in to bat at the Madhavrao Scindia stadium.

England managed only 229 in reply in perfect batting conditions despite a classy 63 from skipper Kevin Pietersen and Ravi Bopara’s unbeaten 54 off 38 balls lower down the order.

The tourists were in danger of falling below their heaviest-ever loss total before Bopara’s late charge, that included five sixes and two fours.

England have twice lost by 165 runs, once to the West Indies in 1994 and again to Pakistan in 2005. They were beaten by 162 runs by Australia in 1999.

Left-handed Yuvraj, who batted with a runner because of a back injury in the early part of his innings, hammered 16 boundaries and six sixes in his ninth one-day century.

Virender Sehwag (85) and Gautam Gambhir (51) set up the big total with a whirlwind opening stand of 120 by the 20th over.

Yuvraj put on 89 for the third wicket with Suresh Raina (43) and 105 for the fifth with skipper Mahendra Dhoni (39) as India plundered 124 runs in the final 10 overs.

It was India’s highest total against a major cricketing nation although their best ever is 413-5 against

Bermuda at last year’s World Cup.

“At the end of the day when you stand up and watch innings like the ones Yuvraj, Sehwag and Gambhir played, you just have to say: well played guys,” Pietersen said.

“The pitch was a perfect batting beauty. They played superb cricket today, but we have to regroup and sort things out. There are six games still left in the series,” he said.

Dhoni said the huge scores posted by his players made victory easier.

“It was a great start given by Sehwag, Gambhir and Raina, and Yuvraj was just fantastic,” the Indian captain said.

“That kind of innings by Yuvraj just takes you through. And after those early wickets, we knew the game was ours,” he said.

Yuvraj, who was ignored for the recent Test series against Australia, said he was happy to make amends.

“These have been a hard couple of months, but this was one of my best innings because I carried on till the end,” he said.

“I pulled a muscle in my back but luckily I had Gambhir running for me. I will try to get fit for the next game in Indore on Monday,” Yuvraj said.

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