With his first few strokes, the sound crisp and clear off the middle of the bat, Yuvraj Singh indicated that this would be his day. He'd come in on the back of a poor run of form and amid calls for his exclusion from the side, and with India in a spot of trouble but his reply - though delayed - was emphatic. By the time he left, having scored 76 off 70 balls, he had put India on course for victory, and settled a few debates as well.

Not that there was any debate in his own mind. "There was never a question mark over my place in the one-day side," he said after the match. "You can't gauge form over two games. I had made four 50s in the five games in the last ODI series [against Pakistan at home]."

It wasn't just the runs, it was the manner in which he scored them - especially off Muttiah Muralitharan, against whom he hasn't always been comfortable. He had to face Murali - who had got him cheaply a couple of weeks ago - immediately and his response was swift. He stepped out to Murali's second ball and drove it past mid-off, stationed inside the 30-yard circle. The next ball he fell for the bait and went for the pull but got a top edge that sailed over the empty midwicket region for the second boundary in a row. Luck was with him.

The strategy to take on Murali - off whom he scored 19 from 18 balls - straightaway was intentional, he said, and inspired by Gautam Gambhir. "In the last game (at Brisbane) I drove him and got out but I'd watched closely the way Gautam batted in Canberra. So instead of blocking I just decided to play my normal game."

And, as the dry heat gave way to a warm breeze, Yuvraj rediscovered his normal game: playing aggressively, playing with a purpose - and with his usual disdain. There was an apparent hunger to get back to the strike, you could see him coaxing Rohit Sharma, his junior partner, at various times to go for the runs or steal runs if there was any room at all.

Yuvraj recognised that the best response to the fall of a wicket was to attack and so Rohit Sharma's dismissal, which brought his captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, to the crease, didn't slow him down. First Jayasuriya was swept over the the square-leg boundary for a big six, and when Murali tried to bring one in to him Yuvraj improvised at the last moment to move outside and steer it past the gully for three and bring up his first half-century of the Australian summer.

He carved shots with majesty, power and placement, made the fielders run after the Kookaburra and made Jayawardene kick the dust in disgust. "I wanted to spend time initially in the middle which I struggled in the last few innings. My aim was to keep a check on the run-rate without losing too many wickets as I knew it would be tough under the lights for the following batsmen", Yuvi said, talking on his primary focus.

He was in good company as Dhoni continued his new habit of seeing the team through till the end and the captain received fulsome praise from his deputy. "Look at how many times he has batted consistently in situations when we needed him," Yuvraj said. "I have batted lower down the order and it is not easy at all. It's tremendous how he goes out there and plays those knocks."

Yuvraj eventually fell at 76 to what he called a "good ball" - a beauty from Vaas - and was disappointed at not getting a hundred. But he'd returned to a familiar zone and now sees the need to carry it forward. Dhoni, who is getting tired hustling the sides out of various tricky situations, will be happy one of his best batsmen has recovered his appetite.