London: India captain Saurav Ganguly said Yuvraj Singh's match-winning performance against England at Lord's on Saturday was no shock display.
The 20-year-old made an unbeaten 64 off 65 balls sharing an unbroken stand of 131 with Rahul Dravid (73 not out), as India, chasing England's target of 271 for seven from 50 overs, got home with seven balls to spare. Earlier man-of-the-match Yuvraj was instrumental in keeping England 30 runs short of the total it was on target for, his left-arm spin leading the Indian attack with three for 39.
"Yuvraj and Rahul played splendidly," said Ganguly after India's opening match in a series also featuring Sri Lanka. "But it is not the first time Yuvraj has won a game for India and I'm not surprised." Ganguly, who made 43 before being brilliantly caught in the deep by James Kirtley, was back in the pavilion when Yuvraj came to the crease. India was 141 for four in the 28th over with star batsman Sachin Tendulkar (1) having suffered a rare failure. "Our first target was to get to 200," explained Yuvraj, a former junior roller- skating champion.
"Rahul was great, telling me not to worry and take my chances." Yuvraj certainly did that hitting seven fours in his innings, his straight driving particularly impressive in contrast to many sub-continental batsmen who prefer to play square of the wicket. "My seniors and coaches have always told me to hit straight down the ground," Yuvraj explained. "Everybody has their own strengths." He was equally modest about his bowling where he had earlier outshone senior spinners Anil Kumble (nought for 46) and Harbhajan Singh (nought for as he ripped the heart out of England's middle order by dismissing captain Nasser Hussain, Andrew Flintoff and Graham Thorpe.
"I had a little bit of an idea. I was just trying to bowl on one side of the wicket," Yuvraj said. Ganguly admitted he thought India would be chasing in excess of 300. "They got to 200 in the 31st over so 300 was obviously on. But we've still got a lot to do in the series," added Ganguly whose team face Sri Lanka at The Oval on Sunday. After seeing his team beat Sri Lanka by 44 runs in Thursday's tournament opener, a disappointed Hussain, whose 54 was England's second best score behind Marcus Trescothick's 86, said, "We lost wickets at crucial times and fell 20 or 30 runs short.
"We've got an inexperienced bowling attack and that showed at times, particularly towards the end," Madras-born Hussain added. But he also paid tribute to his opponents, especially the man-of-the-match. "Yuvraj is a fine player in a long Indian batting line-up full of talented players. But we've got to play well throughout the day. Their side can turn it around in a matter of overs. Their bowling at the death was exceptional." Hussain admitted he would like to have fast bowler Darren Gough back for England's next match of the tournament, against Sri Lanka, at Headingley on Tuesday.
"It would be nice if he threw his hat in for Tuesday but he's got to be fully fit because you can't ease people in with the talent these teams have." Yorkshire quick Gough has not played a first-team match this season, having had two knee operations since injuring himself during the last match of England's One-day series in New Zealand this February.