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Yuvraj, Raina demolish English attack; set a target of 295

Written by: Staff
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Margao, Apr 3 (UNI) A belligerent century by Yuvraj Singh (103) and an equally impressive half century by Suresh Raina (61) propelled India to a mammoth score of 294 for six wickets in their 50 overs against England in the third one-dayer being played at the Nehru Stadium here today.

England, who are already two down in the series, need to score at nearly six runs per over to beat the hosts.

Suresh Raina, the hero of the second match, joined Yuvraj when the team was in a bit of bother at 130 for four in the 28th over.

The two settled down and then proceeded to tear the opposition bowling to all parts of the ground as England had no answer to the duo.

Yuvraj, who started confidently, took on the England captain Andrew Flintoff to get a four through the slip cordon. Taking cue from his senior partner, Raina then hit two glorious boundaries of Liam Plunkett.

Raina had a slice of luck as wicketkeeper Geraint Jones missed an easy stumping chance off Ian Blackwell when the Uttar Pradesh teenager was just on 13 and India on 151 for four.

After this reprieve, there was no looking back as Yuvraj decided that it was his day on a pitch which though being a bit slow was perfect for batting.

The Punajb batsman reached his half century in just 49 balls with six boundaries and then stepped out to pedal-sweep Vikram Solanki to the square leg boundary and then cover-drove the same bowler for another boundary.

Yuvraj proceeded to hit two more huge sixers, even as Raina reached his second consecutive half century with four boundaries and a six.

The two put on 142 for the fifth wicket before Yuvraj was dismissed in the 48th over caught by Collingwood off the bowling of Andrew Flintoff for 103. His 103 came from just 77 balls and had 10 boundries and three sixers in it.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni then came in and joined the run riot scoring a quickfire 13 off six balls with one four and a six.

Raina was dismissed in the last over by Flintoff. His 61 came from 68 balls and had seven boundaries and a six.

Earlier in the morning, Rahul Dravid called correctly and elected to bat first on a ''virgin'' wicket.

Dravid himself came out to open with Virender Sehwag as India dropped Gautam Gambhir and played five bowlers.

The Indian openers started sedately with both of them playing out a maiden over each from James Anderson and Sajid Mahmood with the only run coming off the latter's wide ball.

Dravid, however, opened out in the third over with a beautiful square drive off Anderson to the point boundary and then Sehwag also tried to get back his form with a boundary over the cover region off Mahmood. This gave the Delhi batsman some confidence and he then played an exquisite cover drive on the up off Anderson.

However, just when it seemed like he was recapturing his old form, Sehwag once again tried to drive Anderson on the up but could only manage to drag the ball onto his stumps to be dismissed for 15 with the team score on 27.

Pathan was then promoted to number three and he alongwith Dravid steadied the innings, putting on a valuable partnership of 78 before the Indian captain tried to play a non-existent cut off a delivery from Paul Collingwood only to edge it onto the stumps and dismissed for 46 which came from 59 balls and had six boundaries in it.

A mini collapse then saw India in a spot of bother as Pathan and Mohd Kaif were dismissed in quick successions for 36 and zero respectively to leave India at 130 for four.

Earlier, India handed Munaf Patel his first ODI cap and also brought in Ajit Agrakar in place of Gautam Gambhir and Sreesanth, while England had to leave out their main batsman Kevin Pietersen due to injury and also left out Kabir Ali bringing in Vikram Solanki and Sajid Mahmood in their places.

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