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England floored by Yuvraj

Last updated on: November 14, 2008 16:37 IST

Yuvraj Singh marked his return to form with a swashbuckling unbeaten 138 as India recorded its biggest victory by runs against England, spanking the visitors by 158 runs in the series-opening One-Day International in Rajkot on Friday.

After rattling up a record 387 for 5 at home, the hosts bundled out England for 229 in 37.4 overs to take a 1-0 lead in the seven-match series.

India's previous best victory margin by runs against England was 86 at Sydney in 1985. Their biggest victory margin is 257, against Bermuda at Port of Spain in 2007.

Yuvraj's ninth ODI hundred spurred India to post its second-highest ODI total ever -- well behind their 413-5 against Bermuda in the 2007 World Cup but ahead of its previous home record of 376-2 against New Zealand in 1999.

Clobbered by the in-form Indian bastmen, the English attack conceded more runs than ever in one-dayers, surpassing the 353-6 against Pakistan at Karachi in 2005. India's previous highest total against England was 329-7 at Bristol in August 2007.

Yuvraj defied a troublesome back to roar back into form as he plundered runs at will, belting as many as 16 boundaries and six sixes during his 78-ball massacre.

The dashing Virender Sehwag (85), Gautam Gambhir (51), Suresh Raina (43) and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (39) were the other notable performers after England captain Kevin Pietersen put India in to bat on a belter of a track at the Madhavrao Scindia stadium.

England could never really recover from a disastrous start as they lost wickets at regular intervals, with only Pietersen standing bravely amidst the ruins with a belligerent 63 and Ravi Bopara (54 not out) hitting some lusty shots.

But with the asking rate climbing steeply, the game gradually slipped out of England's reach even before the halfway stage.

The teams now travel to Indore for the second match, to be played on Monday.

The left-handed Yuvraj, batting with a girdle around his waist and Gambhir his runner for a major part of his dazzling knock, hammered the visiting team's bowlers all around the park to notch his ninth one-day hundred.

The Punjab batsman got his hundred off just 64 balls, inclusive of 11 fours and four sixes, narrowly missing out on overhauling Mohammad Azharuddin's 62-ball century record.

The 26-year-old batsman, who was struggling in the Ranji Trophy after a poor run in the Challenger Series prior to this match, got to his second fifty off only 22 balls, with the help of six fours and two sixes.

His final tally of 138 not out, coming off 75 balls, was studded with six sixes and 16 boundaries. It powered India to a best-ever total at the ground, surpassing New Zealand's 349 for 9, the hosts in November 1999.

The total was also the best ever by India against England, overhauling the 329 for 7, put up in August 2007 at Bristol.

Yuvraj's power-hitting show set the visitors a stiff asking rate of 7.7 to win the match.

Asked to take first strike by visiting team captain, Kevin Pietersen, the hosts rocketed off to a great start as Virender Sehwag and Gambhir stitched together a partnership of 127 in less than 20 overs.

After their departure, Suresh Raina (43) and Yuvraj added 89 runs in only 12.5 overs.

Later Yuvraj and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (39) made mincemeat of the visiting team's largely one-dimensional attack to rattle up a stand of 105 runs in only 58 balls for the fifth wicket.

The lone batsman to fail was Yousuf Pathan (0), who lasted only two balls.

Thirteen sixes were clobbered off the England bowlers which left the visitors shell-shocked and helped India to its highest-ever ODI total against a Test team.

Left-handed Gambhir attacked the England bowlers with gusto, stepping out with impunity and carting the ball around.

A lofted on-drive off Anderson for four and a step-out shot against Broad were followed by an edged four to help the 27-year-old batsman complete 2000 runs in his 61st ODI.

Pietersen rung in quick changes and called on experienced duo of Andrew Flintoff and Steve armison to stem the flow of runs. But they also failed to apply the brakes. Pietersen then turned to left arm spinner Samit Patel, who also could not make any impact.

Paul Collingwood was brought on and Sehwag greeted the medium pacer by smacking him over long off and then hoisting the bowler from wide of the off stump over the mid-wicket fence for two sixes off successive balls.

Gambhir completed his 12th fifty by off-gliding Flintoff, in the latter's tight second spell, for a single but fell to Patel while trying to hit the diminutive left arm bowler over the straight field.

The dismissal of Sehwag after India crossed 150 in the 24th over brought together the left-handed pair of Raina and Yuvraj.

Raina struck Broad for a six over wide long on to help India reach 200 in the 32nd over and then clubbed Pietersen over mid-wicket for another six in the next over to keep the run-rate at over six.

Yuvraj then hammered Flintoff straight for his first six after the mandatory ball change at the end of the 34th over. He then square cut Harmison for a four and then struck him for a mighty six over long-on in successive balls before Raina sliced Flintoff to backward point for Paul Collingwood to pull off a fine catch.

Yousuf Pathan got promoted but lasted just two balls, which brought skipper Dhoni in.

Yuvraj, famous for hitting Broad for six sixes in an over in the World T20 Championship in 2007, carted Patel for a huge six over mid-wicket, his fourth of the innings, to pilot India past the 300 mark.

Dhoni fell at 352 but Yuvraj went into overdrive and clouted Flintoff for two sixes in the 46th over before remaining unbeaten after putting on 35 runs with Rohit Sharma (11 not out). 

Faced with a stiff target, the England innings never really took off, as Matt Prior (4) fell prey to Munaf Patel and Zaheer Khan accounted for Owais Shah (0), reducing the visitors to 17 for 2 by the fifth over.

The dismissal of the hard-hitting Andrew Flintoff (4), trapped leg before by Zaheer, came as a huge setback for England, who desperately needed him to click to entertain hopes of overhauling the target.

Paul Collingwood (19) also could not survive long as Harbhajan Singh claimed his wicket. The off-spinner struck a few minutes later, dismissing Samit Patel much to the delight of his teammates.

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