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The Cricinfo Awards
Yuvraj does Australia, and Singh's swing
January 30, 2008
Geoffrey Boycott, Sanjay Manjrekar, Ramiz Raja and Daryll Cullinan relive the best Twenty20 performances of 2007
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Best Twenty20 Batting Performance

Yuvraj finds it's more fun whipping Australia © AFP

Yuvraj Singh: 70 off 30 balls v Australia, World Twenty20 semi-final

Geoffrey Boycott: Yuvraj Singh's 70 off 30 balls was extraordinary. I've always thought that he would do well in one-day cricket rather than Test cricket. He has a lovely, free swing of the bat - lovely, big arc; it is almost like a wide arc that the golfers have. And he plays so freely and uninhibitedly that it is not a surprise that he scores quickly in one-day cricket.

That he got six sixes off Stuart Broad - well, that was a rare event. I thought Stuart Broad for England was very inexperienced: he bowled too many length balls, and when he tried to get it in the blockhole, in the yorker style, he wasn't good enough to do it. And against Yuvraj Singh when he is going, it gave us all a wonderful spectacle. It was entertainment, it was exciting and it was just thrilling to watch.

So for my money, it is his 70 off 30 balls against Australia - and any time you can beat Australia, or wallop their bowlers, it is always fun.

Ramiz Raja: If ever there was drama, passion and valour in a performance, this knock from Yuvraj had it all. You don't see Australians being mauled too often on a cricket ground and that too at a crucial stage of a tournament. Yuvraj's great hitting did Australia in on the semi-final day.

He announced himself in no uncertain terms, with a six over square leg, and incredibly, did not allow the tempo and the quality of his innings to slip. In fact, his innings achieved new heights of brilliance after almost every six balls. His range of shots was extraordinary, and he kept pulling off one great hit after another. In fact, it was his aggression and strong body language in the innings that transformed his team's thinking and make-up and made them believe that they could beat any team in the final. They entered the final with this Yuvraj-given confidence and turned out to be the better team in the crunch moment to take the Twenty20 final.

Yuvraj was the box-office hit and his 30-ball 70 has to be rated as the best Twenty20 knock ever played.

Sanjay Manjrekar: Yuvraj Singh was in terrific form in the World Twenty20, and it was one of the main reasons why India went on to win the title. This knock against Australia - it was a big game and Australia were the favourites, with the reputation that they carry in world cricket. They had a good attack, headed by Brett Lee, but Yuvraj Singh was unstoppable, especially after that performance against England, where he hit six sixes in an over. After that he was well rested [he missed the game against South Africa] and he was ready to take on the Australians.

I will never forget that one six that he hit off Brett Lee - just a flick over square leg and it was one of the longest hits seen on the ground. What's great to see about Yuvraj Singh is that when he hits those boundaries and sixes, most of them are front of the wicket, and that is more difficult for a batsman against the fast bowlers. When you hit the bowler over third man or towards fine leg then you are using the pace of the bowler, but Yuvraj Singh played a lot of shots in front of the wicket, and for a man who comes from India, and not really accustomed to facing fast bowling - for him to dominate all the fast bowlers in the tournament made it a truly exceptional performance.

This innings just set up India's win, and apart from being a decisive knock, whenever Yuvraj Singh bats well it is a treat. It was one of the greatest cameos that I saw along with the one in which he hit six sixes in an over off Stuart Broad in that match against England. These were two of the greatest cameos that I have seen from any batsman.

Best Twenty20 Bowling Performance

RP Swing does for Pollock © AFP

RP Singh: 4 for 13 v South Africa, World Twenty20

Sanjay Manjrekar: To start with, I don't think India had a real chance against South Africa, the home team. The conditions suited the home team, and India have never really done extremely well away from home. But this Indian team was proving everybody wrong. They just happened to come up with excellent performances under pressure, and this was one such performance.

I think one of the most striking aspects of the bowling of RP Singh was that he did not bowl like one would bowl in a Twenty20 game. He kept the ball up, he did the basics right, and he tried to get the new ball to swing. He didn't get the support that he would have liked, with Sreesanth starting off giving away too many runs in the first over. Then RP Singh bowled a beautiful delivery to get rid of the dangerous Herschelle Gibbs. The ball was full and it swung and he had Gibbs leg-before. Then another good wicket, of Greame Smith, followed by the wicket of Shaun Pollock. So three big wickets and a very economical spell of bowling as well. RP Singh, I thought, had a wonderful series, and this was one of his important performances.

RP Singh is a natural seamer of the ball who likes to get it to swing, likes to pitch the ball up, has a good wrist position behind the ball, so I have always found him to be the guy who will get the ball to seam and swing when most other Indian bowlers won't.

Daryll Cullinan: India, batting first, got 153 for 5. They were battling in the beginning but a good partnership in the middle order by [Rohit] Sharma and [MS] Dhoni got them to that score, which is competitive to say the least. In the end South Africa only managed 116, having to get 126 to put New Zealand out of the Twenty20 World Cup, despite having lost this game against India. It was a sad and dramatic exit by South Africa, who had been unbeaten previously [in the tournament], and it just underlined some old ghosts from the past, which no one in South Africa really wanted to be reminded of.

How did it all start? How did India pull of this win? It was a brilliant bowling performance by RP Singh upfront. The value of swing bowling in this format is unusual from a left-armer: genuine late inswing from both over and around the wicket, in tandem with Sreesanth, really knocked South Africa back. Five of the top seven batsmen were all bowled, with India really backing up Sreesanth and RP Singh with brilliant fielding, particularly by [Dinesh] Karthik in the slip cordon, and then a brilliant run-out.

Sreesanth's first over went for 11 runs and one felt that the pressure was on RP Singh. But then it was the timing of his dismissals - he got Gibbs and Smith upfront, Gibbs with a late inswinging beauty and Smith playing away from his body. Then he came back in the middle overs and got Pollock and [Albie] Morkel, the two dangerous players in the team. It was a stunning delivery to Pollock from around the wicket - late swing under the lights in Durban, which is always receptive to good swing bowling.

He was quick, he was accurate, he swung the ball, and he exercised great control, and that really gave India impetus and belief. They pulled off a stunning victory and they took that all the way to the final.

It was fantastic in an age where it's all about pace to see old-fashioned, controlled swing. RP was a crafty performer and this performance has taken his career to greater heights.

Listen to our jury on the Test and ODI award winners.

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Comments: 2 
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Posted by Himanshu on (January 30, 2008, 6:03 GMT)

its fabulous to see awards from the home of cricinfo. i totally agree with the choice of jury members. being an indian i would certainly first of all get into the performance of uv and rp. i rarely agree with what sanjay says but this time i have no choice. certainly form of yuvraj singh was the most important factor in india's world cup victory. then rp's effort against south africa was also an important one. i remember the importance of that match. south africa could have easily qualified even after losing but india had to win to qualify. and the way it turned out in the end, forced everyone to say that south africa are the most unlucky lot in modern day cricket. i really appreciate the step of cricinfo and wish to see these awars in future as well. and i congratulate all the winners.

Posted by Ronak on (January 30, 2008, 4:28 GMT)

yuvraj's inning was too good.but according to me this award should have been given too chris gayle for his brilliant 100 although his team lost the match.his inning which included 10 "towring" sixes was unbeilivible. for the bowling award rp singh is the right choice.he bowled well against proteas to make place for indians in semis.

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