Young turks Yuvraj, Kaif star in India~~s win
Published: Sunday, March 17, 2002, 5:05 [IST]
Scorecard of Match 4
Photo gallery: Zim in India
Hyderabad: Yuvraj Singh smashed a rapid-fire 80 not out to power India to a five-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the fourth One-day International on Saturday.The 20-year-old left-hander cracked one six and eight fours in his 60-ball knock to help India surpass Zimbabwe's 240 for eight with 11 balls to spare and square the five-match series 2-2. His amazing blitz eventually overshadowed Zimbabwean Andy Flower's impressive 89. Man-of-the-match Yuvraj's third half-century in 29 One-day Internationals came at the right time for India, struggling at 132 for four in the 32nd over and in danger of losing the series. He altered the course of the match with a vigorous counter-attack, easing the pressure with his clean and powerful hitting against both pace and spin in a day-night game at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium. "Yuvraj played a fantastic knock," said India skipper Saurav Ganguly. "He won the game for us. It is good to bounce back in the series. We are now looking forward to the last match." Yuvraj, dropped after the tour of South Africa last year, celebrated his return to the team with a commendable innings under pressure. He put on 94 for the fifth wicket with Mohammad Kaif (68), the main feature of the partnership being their sharp running between wickets. The 21-year-old Kaif played a big role in steadying the innings after India had been reduced to 56 for three. He shared a 76-run stand with Rahul Dravid, but India was still under the pressure of asking-rate before Yuvraj changed the complexion of the game. "We had a chance of clinching the series here," said Zimbabwean captain Stuart Carlisle. "But Yuvraj batted very well and was involved in a very good stand with Kaif." Dravid scored a 56-ball 32 without a boundary before inside-edging a Grant Flower delivery on to his stumps. Seamer Travis Friend grabbed two wickets and Douglas Hondo one in early overs to sustain Zimbabwe's hopes of defending its total and wrapping up the series. Left-handed opener Dinesh Mongia punished Hondo for pitching on the leg, flicking him for three successive fours. Hondo looked a better bowler in his next over, taking the prize wicket of Ganguly for seven. The Indian skipper uppishly drove a fuller-length delivery to Grant Flower in the covers. Friend then dismissed a well-set Mongia with the last ball of his opening over and Venkat Sai Laxman with the first delivery of his next. Kaif denied Friend a hat-trick and then went on to defy the Zimbabwean attack with his second successive half-century. Earlier, Andy Flower pulled Zimbabwe out of trouble with his second half-century of the series, adding 66 for the third wicket with opener Dion Ebrahim (38) and 96 for the next with his brother, Grant (44). The tourists were struggling at 13-2 in the fourth over after electing to bat. Andy Flower, who missed the previous match at Cochin due to a hip muscle strain, came to his team's rescue as he reverse-swept brilliantly against debutant left-arm spinner Murali Kartik. He struck six fours in his 107-ball knock before edging left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan to wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra in the 43rd over. India, however, bowled tight in the closing overs to prevent Zimbabwe from crossing the 250-mark despite a brisk 33-ball 40 by Carlisle. Seamer Ajit Agarkar was the most successful bowler, troubling the Zimbabwean batsmen with his pace and bounce to finish with four for 32 off 10 overs. The Flower brothers thwarted the Indians, but were later upstaged by young Yuvraj under lights.