April 14, 2021
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Perfect Symphony

Tendulkar's brilliant reading of the pitch and the situation, Yuvraj's growing maturity that led him to change gears at will and Dhoni's outright aggression all contributed to India's successful pursuit of victory.

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Perfect Symphony
Perfect Symphony


Each had a tempo of its own and combined mellifluously with the others to produce a lovely symphony for India here on Monday. Sachin Tendulkar's composition was classical, Yuvraj Singh contributed with a fluent piece that was unmistakably Yuvraj while Mahendra Singh Dhoni lent the percussion touch.

Tendulkar's brilliant reading of the pitch and the situation, and the manner in which he controlled the start of the innings, Yuvraj's growing maturity that led him to change gears at will and Dhoni's outright aggression all contributed to India's successful pursuit of victory in the third one-day international against Pakistan.

The home side had flaunted its batting depth in setting the visiting team a 289-run target but India responded in more emphatic style. At different stages of the chase, Tendulkar, Yuvraj and Dhoni played a variety of roles with the bat to drum out a fantastic win for a resurgent Team India.

The little big champion may have scored 39 centuries in one-day internationals but this innings of 95 was worth its weight in gold, setting a platform from which India could launch a breathtaking bid to steal victory from under Pakistan's noses.

It cannot be forgotten that he bowled 10 overs nearly as economically as Irfan Pathan and Rudra Pratap Singh. What's more, he picked up Inzamam-ul Haq's wicket tempting the Pakistan captain to play a late cut but finding the edge to the wicket-keeper.

When he was at the crease, his shot selection was impeccable as he focused on seeing off the new ball threat along with Rahul Dravid in a stand of 72 runs. That as many as 70 of his 95 runs came off 17 boundary hits – and he played a total of 104 balls – is a reflection of the methods he employed, watchful much of the time but also scoring at a fair clip.

Yuvraj brought the left-hander's elegance to the table and threw in a fine display of his maturity in handling situations. Aware that Tendulkar was cramping a bit during the latter stages of his stay, Yuvraj was in a more punishing mode, driving through covers and past the bowler with panache.

The 105-run partnership that he shared with Tendulkar was so beautifully paced that the asking rate never went past six and half runs. Tendulkar knew that this was achievable since Pakistan's best bowlers, Mohammed Asif and Umar Gul, did not have too many overs left to bowl at the death.

Talking of batting in the death, Yuvraj settled down to a less frenetic pace of scoring, happily letting Dhoni take centrestage.

When Mohammed Kaif followed Tendulkar in to the pavilion quickly, Pakistan smugly believed that the match had been won and that it would be a matter of time before the rest of the line-up crumbled under pressure. It had not reckoned with Yuvraj and Dhoni.

The dapper batsman walked in when India needed 99 runs to win in 15 overs and knocked off as many as 72 of those in an electrifying hour. "I gave myself eight to 10 balls to play myself in and then start playing my game," Dhoni said. And when he did start exhibiting his brand of batsmanship, there was no stopping him.

As many as 13 fours flowed from his blade as he creamed the Pakistan bowling, delighting the 5000 fans from India in the packed stadium and causing Inzamam, his team and their fans many heartaches. The 44th over from Rana Naved-ul Hasan cost 16 runs and India won with a fair degree of comfort, having 14 deliveries to spare.

Quite obviously Dhoni built his innings on the cornerstone of self-belief. "An asking rate of seven an over was achievable. Yuvi was batting well and there was Suresh Raina to follow. I knew we could do it," he said after the game, basking in the warm glow of having taken part in a fine win.

In his short career, Dhoni has already won a few matches for India and countless fans for himself. He added the Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf to that list. Departing from protocol, he told man of the match Dhoni at the presentation that he had played the architect's role and that he loved his hairstyle.

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