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Yuvraj, Rao take Seniors to victory

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Last updated on: October 11, 2005 23:18 IST


The star-studded India Seniors finally got going, handing India 'B' a crushing seven-wicket defeat in the second limited overs match of the N K P Salve Challenger Series at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Tuesday.

The Seniors' handsome win was founded on an unbroken double century partnership between Yuvraj Singh and Venugopala Rao who helped the team recover from a shaky start and overhaul the India 'B' target of 241 with 25 balls to spare.

Rao, who fell short of a hundred by two runs on Monday, made amends with an unbeaten 101 but his winning shot, an inside edge to third man boundary, meant that his partner from Punjab was stranded on 99 not out.

The 209-run stand between the two from 229 balls surpassed the previous best for the fourth wicket in the Challenger Series, a 170-run association between Dinesh Mongia and Amay Khurasia at Chennai in 2001.

Yuvraj's 99 came from 105 balls with 13 boundaries, while Rao's knock was filled with 15 boundaries from 125 balls.

The Yuvraj-Rao combination saw the Seniors overcome early trouble when they were reduced to 33 for three in the eighth over.

Kerala seamer Sreesanth produced a fiery new ball spell to remove Sachin Tendulkar (4) and Mohammad Kaif (0) in successive overs but the Seniors weathered the damage with ease.

However, Sreesanth failed to make an impact in his second spell and conceded 33 runs from four overs.

Earlier, Parthiv Patel's rearguard 53 off 44 balls helped India 'B' recover from a dicey 130 for four after being put into bat on a good batting strip in the day-night encounter.

Patel shared a vital fifth-wicket stand with Yusuf Pathan (31), adding 58 runs off as many balls and also nursed the lower order with admirable confidence.

Sridharan Sriram was the other notable contributor with 44 off 51 balls. The Tamil Nadu left hander also featured in a 72-run association with skipper Dinesh Mongia (34) for the third wicket from 88 balls.

The stand was broken when Mongia (34) played a rash shot with a wild heave off Pathan and holed out to J P Yadav long on.

Sriram looked confident during his 51-ball knock before hitting a Pathan bouncer straight to Satyajit Parab at backward square leg.

But any hopes the Seniors might have had after claiming two wickets in the space of seven balls of ploughing through the middle order was dented by Parthiv Patel and Yusuf Pathan.

The breakthrough finally came when Yuvraj, having fumbled on several occasions including when he allowed a Sriram go through his hands, managed hold on to Yusuf's drive.

The senior Pathan by that time had made 31 and added 58 runs for the fifth wicket.

Patel, running out of partners, chose to meet fire with fire, driving Pathan and cutting Harbhajan to the fence and also did some purposeful running between the wickets.

Patel reached his half-century with a glide to short thirdman off Harbhajan.

His rearguard innings came to an end when he tried an upper cut off Agarkar and was caught at third man by Yadav.

For India Seniors, Irfan Pathan claimed 3 for 39 while Ajit Agarkar and Harbhajan Singh picked two wickets each.

Sreesanth did not play much of last season on astrologer's advice. The lengthy break seemed to have an effect as the 22-year-old from Muvattupuzha produced a fiery spell to remove Tendulkar and Kaif.

The shiny new ball did a lot more under the lights than it did in the afternoon and a skidder from Sreesanth struck Tendulkar in front of middle stump. Kaif flashed at an away delivery to be caught behind for nought.

In between, Satyajit Parab was stranded in the middle, leaving the Seniors at an embarrassing 33 for three.

It would have been easily four down when Venugopala Rao's defence was breached in the very first ball he faced but Sreesanth had fractionally over stepped the crease.

Yuvraj, however, showed no restraints as he went for the shots from the outset. The Punjab left-hander, who had hit a half-century against India 'A' in the first match, was severe on the pacers when they erred on the leg side, lifting them effortless over the inner ring.


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