Yuvraj, Dhoni guide India to series victory

Despite England captain Eoin Morgan's valiant hundred, India managed to restrict England to 366 for eight to register a 15-run win and seal the series 2-0.

Yuvraj Singh and M.S. Dhoni

Yuvraj Singh and M. S. Dhoni plundered 256, the 10th 100-plus stand between the two and the highest fourth-wicket joint effort against England by any side.   -  PTI

Yuvraj Singh's selection for the ODI series against England had left many amazed. His career best score of 150 off 127 balls in the second match at the Barabati Stadium here on Thursday must have left many of them red faced.

Read: >The Dhoni & Yuvraj show

He proved his detractors wrong and in the process gladdened the hearts of the national selectors who had stoutly defended their choice.

> Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The seasoned southpaw, who made it to the Indian ODI squad after three years, had to prove a point again. He did it emphatically by eclipsing his own personal best of 139 against Australia in 2004.

Yuvraj, whose blistering 14th ODI hundred contained 21 fours and three huge sixes, flourished in the company of old pal, M.S. Dhoni, who switched brilliantly from playing a sheet-anchor's role to that of a swash-buckler to get his 10th century.

Also read: >Probably one of my best knocks, says Yuvraj

The duo smashed many records while reviving India from a precarious 25 for three to post its second highest aggregate, 381 for six, against England.

Despite England captain Eoin Morgan's valiant hundred, India managed to restrict England to 366 for eight to register a 15-run win and seal the series 2-0.

Stats: >Yuvraj overtakes Tendulkar's record

Old memories came alive as the two veterans plundered 256, the 10th 100-plus stand between the two and the highest fourth-wicket joint effort against England by any side.

It was second to the world record of 275, by the unbroken partnership of Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja, against Zimbabwe here in 1998.

Also, the total of 381 for six bettered the previous highest, 363 for five by India against Sri Lanka in 2014, at Barabati.

The plot turned on its head after Morgan chose to field and Chris Woakes displayed a fine spell of bowling, exhibiting variation in length and seam movement, to remove K. L. Rahul, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan inside five overs.

Yuvraj, who was not at his fluent best initially, made the most of the wayward English bowlers and hammered some boundaries on the onside to gain confidence. He got going after reaching his 50 off 56 balls and timed the ball beautifully to unleash his array of strokes, also on the off-side, as he gathered his next 100 off just 71. His three sixes, two off Ben Stokes on long-off and long-on and one off Jake Ball on the leg side, highlighted his class.

The monkey was off Yuvraj's back after he scored his first century since the 2011 World Cup. Overwhelmed with emotions, the left-hander thanked the Almighty, raising both his hands, and thumped his chest with his bat.

Yuvraj's determined knock was backed by Dhoni's complementary role, exemplified by his prompt indication that the left-hander should go for the referral after being give caught behind off Woakes on 146. The ball had bumped off the ground from Yuvraj's bat. Later, Yuvraj departed in a similar fashion.

Dhoni promptly studied the slowness of the track and worked the ball around, while allowing Yuvraj to play his shots.

When things were under control, the copybook-defying Dhoni flexed his muscles, hitting 10 fours and six mighty sixes, including three in a Liam Plunkett over which also saw the former Indian skipper's dismissal. A six on the back foot over bowler Woakes' head and another one sliced over extra cover off Plunkett had left the 43,000 crowd mesmerised.

England's chase kept India under pressure. Jason Roy (82) and Joe Root (54) added 100 runs for the second-wicket before R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja's spin reduced England to 206 for five in 32nd over.

A superb Morgan (102) and a gritty Moeen Ali (55), dropped on 37, batted positively and attacked the bowlers tactically to add 93 runs. Morgan then gathered 50 with Plunkett for the eighth-wicket to stretch it too close before being blocked by Kohli's men.