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July 2, 2007
Rahul Dravid, the India captain, hailed Yuvraj Singh, who played a vital role win India's come-from-behind series win over South Africa in the Future Cup at Belfast, as among the best one-day players in the world.
"He [Yuvraj] has been a fantastic finisher for us," Dravid said at the post-match conference. "It's not an easy job to do under pressure and he does it really well." Apart from making an unbeaten half-century and leading India to a six-wicket win in the third ODI, Yuvraj was also unbeaten in the second ODI when he made 49 and along with Dinesh Karthik (32 off 37 balls) took India to a six-wicket win after Sachin Tendulkar had fallen for 93 in the 32nd over.
"He's got the power, he's got the skill and he's matching that power and skill with temperament, mental strength and brains," said Dravid. "That's a deadly combination. He is up there among the best one-day players in the world without a doubt."
Yuvraj said that what kept him going during pressure situations was knowing that he had previously done well in similar situations. After the World Cup, it was a bad time for all the players," Yuvraj said. "But beating a tough side outside of India gives us a lot of pride."
This was India's first series-win outside the subcontinent since 2002 when they beat England in the Natwest Series. In fact Yuvraj played a major role in India's winning that series, especially in the final at Lord's.
"It was nice to win this," said Dravid. "Away from home, we haven't won a lot. It meant a lot to the team. We've had a few disappointments lately." The Indian team had been criticised for their early exit from the World Cup after their shock defeat against Bangladesh in the group stage of the tournament.
"To win a one-day series, against the No. 2 side in the world, away from home, in conditions that suited them rather than us, in three close games, we acquitted ourselves very well," Dravid said. He added that the Indian fast bowlers had managed to make use of the seaming conditions, pitch the ball up, and execute the team's plans successfully.
Jacques Kallis wasn't too disappointed by his side's performance. "We came here with a young side, and I don't think we've performed badly against a very strong Indian side," said Kallis, who was leading South Africa in the absence of Graeme Smith, recovering from knee surgery.
The purpose of bringing in younger players for the series, Kallis said, was to try and create variety in the bowling attack. "We'd given Thandi [Tshabalala] couple of games and needed to have a look at Dale Steyn as well. We came on this tour wanting to give a lot of guys opportunities."
While India will now travel to Glasgow to play a one-off ODI against Pakistan on July 3 before going to England for three Tests and seven ODIs, South Africa are scheduled to host the Twenty20 World Championship in September.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the day from the fifth ODI in Ranchi
Shorter tours don't allow you time to get into form, and domestic cricket isn't demanding enough