The Report by Kanishkaa Balachandran (ESPN)The Yuvraj Singh-Virat Kohli partnership didn’t have a happy ending in the World T20 final, but less than two weeks after that night in Mirpur, their association in Sharjah followed a different script. Swapping India’s blue for Bangalore’s red, the pair made easy work of Delhi’s 145, helping Bangalore stroll to a eight-wicket win. Yuvraj was circumspect to begin with but later on brought out his power game to not only outscore Kohli but help Bangalore march to the target with plenty to spare.
The bedrock of the chase was Kohli, who benefited from two let-offs in his 20s to remain unbeaten on 49. The pair added 84 in just 7.5 overs, nullifying the unbeaten 110-run association between Delhi’s JP Duminy and Ross Taylor that helped Delhi recover from a wobbly 35 for 4.
Bangalore were never under serious pressure during the chase, especially after opener Parthiv Patel gave the innings a push with a positive 35, in the absence of Chris Gayle to injury. He charged down the track to the seamers, forcing the ball down the ground and pulling a six, off the left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, out of the ground. After he was bowled in the ninth over, Bangalore were at a comfortable 62 for 2, giving Yuvraj the platform to play himself into form, with the security of Kohli at the other end.
Yuvraj didn’t look secure initially, taking his eyes off a short ball and hooking a boundary to fine leg. He found his groove with a flat six over long-on off the legspinner Rahul Sharma and some wayward bowling by Nadeem gave Yuvraj the chance to pepper the leg-side boundaries with his favourite slogs.
Delhi needed wickets but when the chances came their way, they fluffed them. Jimmy Neesham fluffed the simplest of catches at short fine leg when Kohli was on 23, and when the batsman had added one more, he was put down by Mayank Agarwal at deep cover. Against arguably the best chaser in the world, regulation drops will come back to hurt. It was clearly Bangalore’s night as Yuvraj and Kohli closed out the chase with more blows over the boundary. Yuvraj managed his first Indian T20 fifty in 20 innings and the smile was back on his face.
Delhi found it tough on a two-paced Sharjah pitch, struggling to get the run rate above five in the first ten overs. The loss of early wickets slowed them down. Agarwal fell top-edging a pull to square leg as the frustration to score began to build, and Delhi were pegged back further when Dinesh Karthik and Manoj Tiwary fell for 0 and 1 respectively.
The strategic timeout didn’t change Delhi’s fortunes as M Vijay, who had made a start with 18, was bamboozled by the legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal. Vijay was playing for the turn but the ball straightened and shaved the off stump. At 35 for 4 in the eighth over, Delhi desperately needed a big partnership at a good clip to compensate for the sluggish scoring in the first half.
It was a scratchy innings from Taylor as he cursed himself when he played and missed, in an effort to push the scoring. Chahal got it to turn and grip and the googlies were a handful for Taylor. The boundaries had dried up for seven overs before Taylor broke the shackles with a flick to fine leg off Ashok Dinda.
The momentum in the latter half was provided by Duminy, who unlike Taylor found the middle of the bat regularly. He lofted Yuvraj for a six to the sightscreen before scooping Dinda to the same area. Dinda was ineffective at the death yet again as he leaked 51 off his four overs. Delhi took 30 off the last two overs and 63 off the last five but in the end, 145 wasn’t enough.