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Sight Screen

Monday, November 28, 2005

India 31-40

At the end of four outings, Yuvraj Singh aggregates 209, and averages 69.60 -- dead even with Graeme Smith, who also made 209 runs this series at 69.66.
Each time, the southpaw has played the sort of innings the conditions dictated; here, coming behind Tendulkar's wicket and with his captain at the other end anchoring the side, Yuvraj played with clear intent to avoid flirtation without missing out on any opportunity to play his shots; his innings of 49/64 with 40 dot balls, 13 singles, 4 twos and 7 boundaries took India into the comfort zone. When he was out, mistiming an attempted steer to third man into the hands of the keeper, India needed just 60 more, off 84.
At the other end Dravid, vilified for his 6/22 in the previous game, played this almost perfectly. Initially, he started off with a flourish, but quickly throttled back, eschewing risk in the interests of seeing the side home. A feature of his innings today has been the straightness of his bat -- where, earlier, he had been looking to angle his shots more into the square leg-mid on region, today he played remarkably straight, producing superbly controlled drives on either side of the wicket. More than the runs scored, though, what was remarkable today was the single-minded focus on ensuring the win.
Dhoni, predictably, came in after Yuvraj to break the game open and, though chancy, remains in situ, with India heading into the slog phase needing just 40 off the last 60; you would have to say India at this point merely needs to bat through to the winning post.
Thus far, it has been clinical -- early seam inroads, good restrictive bowling in the middle and death, brilliant fielding, and a planned, calculated chase. Whatever demons remained from Kolkatta have been, seemingly, exorcised even before they started playing this game.
Smith, meanwhile, appears to have given up the struggle -- it is really remarkable to see, at this point, the Proteas captain using his main strike bowlers to Dhoni with nary a slip in sight, this despite the opening slash that just eluded Boucher, and a french cut subsequently.

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