RAJKOT // Yuvraj Singh struck the second fastest one-day century by an Indian to set up the team's thumping 158-run victory over England in the first one-day international today. The 26-year-old left-hander smashed 138 not out in just 78 balls to help India post an imposing 387 for five for their best one-day total against a Test-playing nation. It was the highest total England has ever conceded and ended in one of their heaviest defeats after being bowled out for 229 despite fifties by skipper Kevin Pietersen (63) and Ravi Bopara (54). Aggressive opener Virender Sehwag set the tone for the run feast with a dashing 85 off 73 balls after the tourists elected to bowl first on a flat pitch.
Yuvraj appeared to have suffered a niggle in the back and employed a runner but that did not stop the runs flowing as he cracked 16 fours and six sixes in imperious fashion. It was 26-year-old Yuvraj's ninth one-day century. He then added 105 runs for the fifth wicket in just 58 balls with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (39) to further put the England attack to the sword. Sehwag put on 127 with the in-form Gautam Gambhir (51) to give India a solid start, hitting 10 fours and three sixes, and reached his 30th fifty with consecutive sixes off medium-pacer Paul Collingwood's first two deliveries.
Ian Bell took a diving catch to his right at midwicket to dismiss Sehwag off Samit Patel after the opener had lashed the left-arm spinner for a six and two fours in the over. Patel had earlier dismissed Gambhir, who miscued his lofted drive and was caught by Owais Shah at long-off. But Yuvraj put on 89 for the third wicket with Suresh Raina (43) and lifted the scoring rate in his stand with Dhoni as he continued to tear into the English bowling.
Harmison eventually dislodged Dhoni in the 48th over. Bowling changes had no effect on Yuvraj, however, who last year became the second batsman in international cricket to score six sixes in an over during the Twenty20 World Cup. *Reuters