World Cup - Yuvraj inspires India to nervy win

Sun, 06 Mar 17:20:00 2011

Yuvraj Singh produced a stunning all-round show to become the first player to top up a five-wicket haul with a half century in the World Cup as India pulled off a nervy victory over Ireland in Bangalore.

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Yuvraj's slow left-arm deliveries helped India to bowl out Ireland for a modest 207 and he followed that up with 50 not out off 75 balls to steer his team to a five-wicket victory in Group B, ensuring they stay unbeaten in the tournament.

The 29-year-old and his captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (34 in 50 balls) played uncharacteristically sedate knocks and stitched together a 67-run partnership to set India well on their course to victory.

The duo came together with India precariously perched at 100-4 after Sachin Tendulkar (38) and Virat Kohli (34) fell in quick succession.

Following Dhoni's dismissal, Yusuf Pathan blazed a quickfire 30 off 24 balls with three towering sixes to finish off the match.

"I am definitely very happy with my bowling. First five-wicket haul and I am happy that I could finish off the game," man-of-the-match Yuvraj said with a wide grin.

"Ireland played well and put us under pressure. They fielded exceptionally."

Yuvraj's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni agreed: "Frankly speaking, the scoreboard said 208-odd runs but it was close to 240 because the Ireland side fielded really well and their bowlers were very well backed up by the fielders."

Ireland used as many as eight bowlers to try and dislodge the pair but they dealt with the varied bowling attack and managed to score at a modest pace despite a sterling fielding effort by the Irish.

The most impressive Irish bowlers were their young spinners.

The 20-year-old Paul Stirling finished with none for 45 and the 18-year-old off-spinner George Dockrell finished with two for 49 -- their figures spoilt by Pathan's blitz at the very end.

Earlier, known more for his explosive batting, Yuvraj showed that his left-arm off spin was just as lethal as he bowled his quota of 10 overs on the trot, taking wickets at regular intervals to ensure that the Ireland run rate never took off.

Yuvraj came on in the 26th over and bowled with excellent flight and guile to finish with a career-best five for 31, including the key wickets of William Porterfield (75) and Kevin O'Brien (9), scorer of the World Cup's fastest ever century on Wednesday.

Yuvraj took over after Zaheer Khan gave India the perfect start by bowling Stirling in the first over of the day and removing Ed Joyce in his next over. He finished with three for 30.

Ireland went into a shell and crawled to 27-2 after 10 overs as Zaheer got the ball to move around dangerously and Dhoni brought on his spinners from the fourth over of the day.

Ireland skipper Porterfield top-scored for his team with a fighting 75 in 104 balls and Niall O'Brien (46) steadied the innings with some determined batting mixed with pugnacious strokeplay in a stubborn 113-run partnership.

They took their team to a relatively comfortable position of 122-2 when a smart piece of fielding by Virat Kohli saw O'Brien run out short of a well deserved 50.

Kevin O'Brien, fresh from his amazing match-winning 113 off 63 balls against England, found his team in a similar situation against India, but he failed to repeat his heroics as he fell to a smart catch by Yuvraj off his own bowling.

From then, it was precession of wickets at regular intervals as they lost their last eight wickets for 85 runs and some more resistance by the lower order helped Ireland inch over the 200-run mark.

Reuters

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