Yuvraj, Zaheer power India to massive 158 run win over England

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Rajkot, Nov 14 (UNI) Rampaging Yuvraj Singh marked a welcome return to form with an unbeaten 78-ball 138 and pacer Zaheer Khan who broke the back of the English top order with three quick wickets saw India inflict a humiliating 158-run defeat on the visitors in the first ODI here today.

India with this 158-run victory margin recorded its highest ever victory in terms of runs against England. The visitors while chasing a target of 388 to win were folded up 229 in 37.4 overs.

Yuvraj Singh, whose place in the team has been questioned over his lack of form recently gave a fitting answer to his critics overcoming a stiff back to slam an unbeaten 138 from only 78 balls.

It was the fastest ODI hundred against England, while India's total beat the previous best against this team - Pakistan's 353 in Karachi in 2005. It was also India's best total at home and second highest anywhere.

India were earlier given a rollicking start after Kevin Pietersen decided to give the hosts first strike, a decision he will rue for the rest of the series as the Indian openers gleefully accepted the gift of batting first with both Gambhir and Sehwag cracking half centuries putting on 127 runs for the first wicket.

Yuvraj began in the 24th over, after Sehwag had been brilliantly caught by Ian Bell at midwicket for a 73-ball 85. Shortly into his innings, Yuvraj had problems with his back and needed a brace.

Steve Harmison decided to test him with some short balls and, though Yuvraj took his eyes off them, he pulled consecutive boundaries and rounded off the over with a steer past slip for four more. Those three strokes set the tone.

India took the third power play in the 35th over according to the new rules wherein a batting side can choose one power play and Yuvraj sent Flintoff crashing to the point fence for a boundary and then followed it up with a six over long-on as India pressed on the accelerator.

Yuvraj reached his 38th half century with a drive to the long on fence of Harmison. His 50 came in just 42 balls and was inclusive of five boundaries and two sixes.

India made 41 runs from the third power play which they chose with Dhoni joining Yuvraj and the two ensuring that India had a huge score for their bowlers to defend on this wicket.


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