SK Flashback: When Dhoni-Yuvraj caused mayhem to clinch the series in Karachi, 2006
Dhoni and Yuvraj put up a solid partnership to steer India to victory with their 146 off 99 balls, at the National stadium in Karachi.
“Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn,” sounds like the perfect way to forget the failure and move on to the next venture with stronger intensity and spirit. Well, it does sound perfect, unless you are saying it to an Indian or a Pakistani fan during a match between the two nations. As a matter of fact, it has always been more than a sporting encounter when it’s between the neighbouring countries, for various political and sentimental reasons.
Just like the way we witness the frenzy today, the madness about a contest between these two countries, who share a really strong history, was evident years ago.
The India tour of Pakistan back in 2006 had everything a cricket fan wants from a cricket match – entertainment, twists and climax. It was a series where all the ingredients blended so well, so as to make the perfect recipe for victory.
The fifth One-Day international, also the final of the series, at the National Stadium in Karachi in 2006 had a packed stadium with spectators from both countries coming out in humongous numbers. India had already clinched the 5-match ODI series 3-1 before the kick-off of the ultimate game, and wasn’t a great series for the hosts. They won the 3-match Test series 1-0 (the first two matches being drawn), and managed to win just one ODI by D/L method.
The fascinating thing about the final match of the series was the drubbing that the Indians produced against their arch rivals, thanks to an important 3rd wicket partnership between the MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh. It was the contrast of their batting style – the calm Dhoni and the aggressive Yuvraj – and also the left and right-hand combination that did wonders for the Indian side.
Sreesanth picks vital wickets
After winning the toss, when India chose to field, Pakistan set a good start for the game with a 62-run opening partnership. However, once Imran Farhat walked to the pavilion, the next three batsmen followed suit quickly and spent very little time at the crease. This had already somewhat slimmed the chances of a tough fight by Pakistan.
Once the top-order faltered against Sreesanth and co., it was Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan who acted as the saviours for the fourth consecutive match and helped take the match total to a decent 286.
Both batsmen scored steady and patient half-centuries to push the Pakistanis to a respectable score, with all-rounder Abdul Razzaq scoring a quickfire 24 off just 15 balls.
Dravid notches up his fifty, helps India to a strong start
It was now the time for the Indian side to repeat the magical performance they delivered in the third ODI in Lahore where they were chasing a target of a similar figure (288) and which they did with the same technique, same confidence and same partnership.
India started their chase in a clinical manner, with Gautam Gambhir and captain Rahul Dravid setting the stage and maintaining the momentum. With the score at 69 runs, Gambhir slashed a wide delivery that was going away and was caught by the keeper. In walked Yuvraj Singh, who was in excellent form in the series.
India had made a very calm progress to 114 for 1, and the asking rate had climbed up to seven-an-over. A completely balanced Dravid notched up his fourth fifty as a one-day opener. However, Dravid’s dismissal in the 31st over, where he tried to flick from off to leg which popped the ball straight to mid-on, gave a new glimmer of hope to Pakistan.
Dhoni joins Yuvraj at the crease
This was when Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni – who also were the leading men of the Lahore victory striking a partnership of 102 runs – joined forces in the middle. Between them, they had scored 563 runs in the ODI series and were a formidable partnership. They made some quick runs between the wickets and Yuvraj’s intermittent cover-drives through the off-side did not let the game slide off their hands.
With wickets in hand, the duo played lavishly, hitting all across the ground. That is when Yuvraj, then at 64, drove a shot to extra-cover at a reachable catching height, but Shoaib Malik fluffed it. This was a turning point of the match for both the sides. As for India, it was a boon which made the duo more cautious in their play, while Pakistan lost their confidence which was highly-prominent by their game on the field.
Yuvraj suffers a hamstring pull on 82
When Dhoni joined the shot hitting bandwagon with Yuvraj in the middle, the equation at one stage was a challenging 92 from 67 balls. This is when Dhoni thought that he waited enough and pounced and pulled out the most audacious of shots from lofted drives off near-yorkers to smacks towards square leg. He slapped his last fifty runs in just 27 deliveries. At one point in the game, India secured a run rate of more than 10-an-over.
Just when the game looked to be under full control of the pair, the hard-hitting Yuvraj suffered a hamstring pull when he was on 82. After treatment for a few minutes, the brave-hearted Singh roared like a champion. Though he might have been limping in pain, his shots were as ferocious as ever and he brought up his first one-day hundred against Pakistan.
The scoreboard read 146 runs from 118 balls when the two started their partnership, it wasn’t coming across as a crisis but the fact that they did it in just 99 balls is commendable. Even more, when the last 46 of those took just 20 deliveries. This storming partnership of 146 definitely is one of the best partnerships in Indian ODI history.
Dhoni averaged 219 in the series, while Yuvraj was the highest run-getter with 344 runs. Yuvraj also was awarded Player of the Match and Player of the Series titles. The brutal side of Dhoni and the elegance of Yuvraj not only made India win, but went on to disrupt the ICC rankings.
Both, Dhoni and Yuvraj, the architects of the victory in Pakistan climbed to feature in the top ten ODI batsmen in the ICC rankings that year (No. 3 and No. 9 respectively). Rahul Dravid too moved up a notch to occupy the tenth position. Irfan Pathan's impressive showing in the series got him the fourth place among the bowlers and all-rounders list and India's comprehensive 4-1 series win placed them at No. 4.