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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Yuvraj's fine all-round show douses Irish fire

Yuvraj's fine all-round show douses Irish fire

Last updated on: March 06, 2011 22:24 IST

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Yuvraj Singh's superb all-round performance helped India outclass Ireland by five wickets in their third World Cup encounter at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, in Bangalore, on Sunday.

Chasing a modest total of 207, India reached the target in 46 overs.

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Yuvraj remained not out on 50 after having taken five for 31 with the ball. The left-hander, in the process, became the first man to take five wickets and score a half-century in a World Cup match.

India jumped to the top of standings in Group B with five points from three matches, the same as England, but ahead on run rate.

Yuvraj SinghEarlier in the day, England edged past South Africa by six runs in a thrilling contest in Chennai.

When he walked out to bat, India were in trouble at 87 for three in the 21st over, having lost the wicket of veteran Sachin Tendulkar, who was trapped leg before wicket by young spinner George Dockrell for 38.

Virender Sehwag had perished cheaply, caught and bowled by Trent Johnston for five.

Johnston also accounted for Gautam Gambhir (10). The veteran pacer took two for 16 in five overs in a superb spell with the new ball before he injured himself after taking a tumble in the follow through and could not take further part in the match.

Tendulkar repaired the damage with a cautious 63-run partnership for the third wicket with Virat Kohli, who thrived under pressure with a battling innings of 34, before he was run out after a misunderstanding with Yuvraj.

Even captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni shunned his flamboyant approach and opted to deal in singles in the middle overs. He made 34 before he also fell leg before wicket to Dockrell, who impressed with wonderful figures of two for 49 in ten overs.

Yusuf Pathan helped India avoid late drama as he slammed a quickfire 34 from 20 balls, inclusive of two fours and three sixes.

Earlier, put in to bat after Dhoni won the toss, Ireland lost two early wickets to Zaheer Khan before their captain William Porterfield rode on an early reprieve to rescue the team from a precarious situation.

The Ireland skipper, who was dropped for nought by Yusuf Pathan, standing in the slips of the second ball of the match bowled by Zaheer, ensured that he capitalised on his 'life'.

Porterfield (75 off 104 balls) along with Niall O'Brien (46 off 78) put on 113 runs off 148 balls for the third wicket to put Ireland back on track. However, his dismissal at a crucial juncture allowed India to fight back into the match at the Chinnaswamy stadium.

During his 146-minute stay in the middle, Portefield hit six boundaries and a six, while Niall O'Brien's knock included three hits to the fence.

Alex Cusack scored 24 of 30 balls, but, overall, the Irish line-up found Yuvraj too difficult to handle on a track where batting never looked the hardest thing in the world.

After the two early blows, it was more about a battle for survival for Ireland. But Portefield and Niall O'Brien showed gumption during an association, which not just steadied what seemed like a sinking ship a little while ago, but also yielded runs on the board.

They were sensible in not taking on Zaheer, who was moving the ball both ways, but more than made it up with their cautious approach against the seamer by milking the spinners.

Runs came at a healthy pace as long as the two were at the crease. Apart from an attack that lacked bite, the Irish duo was also helped by some sloppy ground fielding by the Indians, though Virat Kohli made up for his few lapses by running out the senior among the O'Brien brothers.

But before that, for 93 minutes and 148 deliveries, Porterfield and O'Brien made the Indians sweat with some calculative batting.

The ploy was to attack Piyush Chawla, the weakest link in the Indian attack, and the moment the leggie was introduced just before the first drinks break, Porterfield signalled his intention with a towering six over deep mid-wicket.

Using his feet regularly, Porterfield not only negated whatever turn was there on offer, but also forced Chawla to err in line. The leg-spinner was guilty of bowling too many extras in his first spell, including three wides and a no-ball in a single over that left the Indians frustrated for a while.

Soon Porterfield reached his half-century, a well-deserved one, with a drive through extra cover after Chawla dropped one too full and in the zone.

But just when things were looking bright for Ireland, came a setback. Kohli helped Dhoni run O'Brien out with a direct throw from point and it triggered a mini-collapse that saw Ireland lose four wickets for 40 runs, including the important one of Portefield.

Andrew White, inducted in place of Gary Wilson and coming in after the fall of Niall O'Brien, edged Yuvraj to Dhoni for five.

Last match's hero, Kevin O'Brien, was greeted with much anticipation from a packed Chinnaswamy crowd, but his nine-minute stay ended when Yuvraj had him caught off his own bowling.

The associate nation was dealt its biggest blow when Yuvraj, who was turning things around for the hosts, dismissed Porterfield just after the drinks break. The Irish captain rocked back after seeing a short delivery from Yuvraj but could not clear Harbhajan at cover.

As is often the case with a set batsman, the break may well have disturbed Porterfield's concentration.

India heaved a sigh of relief, thanks largely to Yuvraj. His performance with the ball might force the team management to think whether they need an off-colour Chawla in the eleven for the matches ahead.

Earlier, barring Zaheer's opening burst during which he picked the wickets of Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce, Dhoni kept rotating the other bowlers in the early part of the Ireland innings, with Munaf Patel being replaced twice within the first 15 overs.

Zaheer gave India an early breakthrough when he went through Paul Stirling's half-hearted drive with a delivery that swung in off the track.

The left-arm seamer struck again when Ed Joyce edged one to Dhoni after failing to read a ball that zipped inward on landing. What left the batsman foxed was that Zaheer, before that wicket-taking inswinger, were bowling away-going deliveries at will.

Photograph: Getty Images