India vs Australia only T20: Singh is king, Singh is king, Singh is king!

Image courtesy of: NDTV

Singh’s magical innings included eight boundaries and five sixes

Yuvraj Singh was definitely the king of Rajkot yesterday as he blitzed his way to an unbeaten half-century to lead India to a stunning win over Australia in their one-off Twenty20 International.

Singh, who was making his second comeback since being diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer in 2011, was well supported by his team-mates as India went on to reach their target of 202 with two balls to spare.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to bowl first since he believed the pitch would offer his bowlers some assistance after being under the covers for a long time.

However, Australia took control of the match early on as their opening pair of Aaron Finch and debutant Nic Maddinson put together a 56-run partnership before Maddinson was clean bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 34 off 16 balls, which included six boundaries and a six.

All-rounder Shane Watson and skipper George Bailey both failed to have an impact as they were picked off by Vinay Kumar in the same over.

Meanwhile, Finch was rocketing along and soon registered his half-century.

However, as he was nearing his century, he was out caught and bowled to Vinay Kumar.

Finch hammered 89 off 52 deliveries, which included 14 boundaries and a six.

Australia eventually finished on a fantastic score of 201, thanks to some late fireworks from all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who blazed his way to 27 off 13 balls, which included four maximums.

Vinay Kumar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar both picked up three wickets apiece, while spinner Ravindra Jadeja chipped in with one wicket.

With a mammoth target of 202 standing between them and winning the Twenty20 series, India got off to a rocky start as opening batsman Rohit Sharma was caught behind off the bowling of Clint McKay for only eight runs.

Suresh Raina followed him after a short stay at the crease, which was ended when he hit a delivery from Nathan Coulter-Nile straight to Watson.

Sharma’s opening partner Shikhar Dhawan was able to score 32 runs of 19 balls, which included five boundaries, before he was stumped by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin off the bowling of Xavier Doherty.

Virat Kohli also played a handy little innings as he amassed 29 runs off 22 deliveries.

With India struggling at 100/4 in the 12th over, Singh and Dhoni got the party started as they demolished the Australian bowling attack.

Singh soon brought up his half-century and looked to be the more aggressive of the pair, while Dhoni seemed content on taking singles and doubles to keep the scoreboard ticking.

Singh and Dhoni’s partnership was worth 102 and had come at an exceptional rate of 12 runs per over when India eventually crossed the finish line with only two deliveries to spare.

Singh finished unbeaten on 77 off 35 deliveries, which included eight boundaries and an incredible five sixes, while Dhoni remained undefeated on 24 off 21 balls, which included two boundaries.

McKay was the most successful Australian bowler with two wickets, while Doherty and Coulter-Nile both snapped up one wicket each.

Bailey was impressed that his side had been able to post a score of 200, but he also praised Singh for his special innings.

“You probably would take that (total), we were one wicket further down than we wanted,” he said. “You score 200, if you are going to chase it down, today is the day. Yuvraj batted superbly. I was really happy with the start, leaving Xavier a bit late, he only bowled three overs.”

Dhoni was all smiles as he approached the podium and he also paid tribute to Singh for his top-class knock.

“Yuvi batted really well, really good start which was important,” he said. “We all knew australia would bowl well with the new ball, but once the ball got wet and the seam got wet. One of the best batting you can see in the shorter format. I think we’ve got quite a few big partnerships, I didn’t get too many opportunities to bat with him over the past year. Thanks to Yuvi, who accepted the challenge of batting at No. 5, he completed his goal in the best possible manner. I think batsmen proved the point.”

Singh was named the Man of the Match for his match-winning innings, and said: “Shed a few kilos, worked really hard in the off season, came with a fresher mind, batted in the A games. I need some really good games to come back to action, pretty good platform (talking about the A games). I’m very confident when Mahi is around, he is one guy who goes after the bowling. I just thought I would try and take the game to the end. always a pleasure and honour to be playing in the Indian jersey.”

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