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Wild cheers greeted Yuvraj Singh when he walked in to bat at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium on Thursday. The crowd here had last seen him bald, having just successfully recovered from cancer.
He was the captain of Pune Warriors previously, but had missed IPL-5 due to his recovery. Yuvraj returned to his 'home ground', putting behind the disappointment of being dropped from the Test side, in a Man of the Match performance. The southpaw's role with both bat and ball saw India through to a five-wicket win over England in the first T20.
He top-scored with 38 in India's chase but it was his three-wickets for 19 runs that was instrumental in keeping England to 157 for six on a flattish track.
Yuvraj's burst of wickets came at a critical time especially considering the start England had. The visitors were 76 for one in eight overs, when Yuvraj was brought in. England opener Alex Hales had demolished India's new ball bowlers, scoring 48 runs at a strike rate of 200 at that point. He had crashed two boundaries each off pacers Ashok Dinda and debutant Parvinder Awana.
He had also deposited spinners R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja for a six and a four each. Dhoni then threw the ball to Yuvraj. From 76 for one in eight overs, England slipped to 113 for four in 15 overs, by the time Yuvraj was done with his spell of four overs on the trot.
His first over was tight, going for just five singles, but Yuvraj struck with the first ball of his second over. One drop Luke Wright, who had by the eleventh over moved to 34 off 20 balls, was caught in the deep in an over that went for four runs. In his third and most successful over, he had Eoin Morgan dropped by MS Dhoni off the first ball, but disturbed Hales' furniture with his next delivery. Morgan's reprieve did not last long, as he succumbed to Yuvraj in the same over, the skier caught at mid on.