Pune: Yuvraj Singh can do no wrong when it comes to limited-overs cricket and on Thursday he once again proved that with an all-round show of 3 for 19 with the ball, which followed a 21-ball 38 with the bat in India's five-wicket win over England in the first T20 international.
Pune's Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium couldn't have asked for a better international debut with its IPL franchise Pune Warriors India skipper coming to the fore to bring cheers after a disappointing Test series loss.
Yuvraj's effort with the ball helped India restrict England to a manageable 157 for six. He then came out at a concerned 44 for 2 to smash England all over the park to ease out the rest of chase which India completed with 13 balls to spare.
The eighth over of India's innings turned the game away from England when Yuvraj hit left-arm spinner Danny Briggs for two sixes and a boundary. In total, the over accrued 18 runs to give India the momentum.
Yuvraj hit a third six in the 10th over of the run-chase but was dismissed by Luke Wright in the same over while going for another big shot. The finishing job was then done by skipper MS Dhoni and limited-overs specialist Suresh Raina with knocks of 24 not out and 26 respectively.
Some applause must also be reserved by openers Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane who got India off to a rollicking start of 41 in four overs. Gambhir hit three boundaries in his 16 while Rahane hit two towering sixes in his 19. But Gambhir and Rahane were sent packing in the space of four balls, which left India with some rebuilding to do. That's where Yuvraj took over to be the gamechanger.
Earlier in the evening, Dhoni put England in to bat expecting dew to fall later in the evening. England opener Alex Hales grabbed the opportunity and took off to score 56 in 35 balls with 7 fours and 2 sixes. He took the inexperienced Indian pacers Ashok Dinda and debutant Parvinder Awana to the cleaners before tearing into spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla.
But Yuvraj's introduction, with England 76 for 1 in 8 overs, put a plug on the boundaries as he took the pace off the ball to bowl slow and strike three vital blows in the space of 10 deliveries. He dismissed Luke Wright (34 in 21 balls), Hales and England skipper Eoin Morgan (5) in a flash. R Ashwin, though, was the first to strike when he dismissed opener Michael Lumb in his second over.
Jos Butler gave the England score some respectability with his quickfire 33 in 21 balls, including three sixes. He took Awana for 17 runs in the last over of the innings after Dinda's third over - the penultimate of England innings - gave him the wickets of Samit Patel (24) and Tim Bresnan (0). He finished with 2 for 18 while Awana remained wicketless.