Thursday 24 March 2011 

Yuvraj Singh Guides India Into World Cup Semi-Finals

Yuvraj Singh Guides India Into World Cup Semi-Finals
Yuvraj Singh Guides India Into World Cup Semi-Finals
© REUTERS/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds (INDIA - Tags: SPORT CRICKET) Picture Supplied by Action Images
 

India 261-5 (Yuvraj Singh 57no, Tendulkar 53) beat
Australia 260-6 (Ponting 104) by five wickets
ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 quarter-final, Ahmedabad
| Video Update

India beat Australia by five wickets in the second quarter-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 at Ahmedabad. Not only did the three-time defending champions lose, victory for India set up a mouth watering semi-final clash with Pakistan at Mohali in six days’ time.

India chased down 261 for five, with Yuvraj Singh unbeaten on 57 after Australia had earlier posted 260 for six, a century from Ricky Ponting underpinning their total.

Earlier in the day, Australia won the toss and elected to bat first. India once again opened with R Ashwin and he tied the openers down in tandem with Zaheer Khan. Only 40 runs came off the first ten overs as MS Dhoni used a combination of pace and spin to choke the run-rate. But on the last ball of the ten mandatory power-play overs, when Ashwin bowled Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting came out to the crease. It changed the course of the match, though not in the blitzkrieg fashion of 2003.

He came into this match following a terrible run, both on and off the field. While the big runs simply hadn’t flown from his bat for quite some time, he courted one controversy after another away from the pitch. But today he started slow, first building a seventy-run partnership with Brad Haddin that solidified the innings. Then he stepped up a gear as three wickets fell around him in the space of forty runs, making sure the pace never fell below four and a half runs an over. He brought up his fifty in sixty-seven balls and then ended the drought when he reached the three figure mark off 113 balls. His innings included seven fours and one six.

Meanwhile, the Indian bowling and fielding had been pretty busy, probably at their best yet in the tournament. They got regular breakthroughs in the middle overs, especially after Yuvraj Singh struck a telling blow to get Haddin out. Michael Clarke fell for eight, also accounted for by Yuvraj, but the biggest and most crucial wicket was of Michael Hussey. He was bowled for only three runs in the 34th over by Zaheer Khan.

Australia were 150 for four at that stage. Ponting then rallied along with David Hussey, who came in to the side in place of Steve Smith, and made a brisk 38 off only 26 balls. In between Khan also scalped Cameron White, dashing the Aussie hopes of launching an attack in the last ten overs. Ponting finally fell for 104 runs in the 49th over and tried his best to force the pace. Despite all their efforts they could only make 260 for 6 in their fifty overs. 

India began frantically with Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, but the former departed in the ninth over. He was trying to pull Watson and lobbed it in the air, out for 15. Tendulkar though carried on and completed a riveting half-century off 61 balls, including seven fours. He looked good for more but Shaun Tait, after spraying the ball all over in his initial spell, came back with a good delivery to scalp the most important wicket.

There was no need to panic yet in the Indian quarters as Delhi lads Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli strung together 49 runs, picking singles with ease. It seemed though that something would have to give and Kohli was caught by Clarke off David Hussey, trying to drive the ball but failing to keep it down. After he was gone for 24 runs, Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh played out a comedy of errors, seeming almost intent on giving up the match.

There were three run-out chances in the space of just a couple of overs and eventually on the third, Australia did oblige the batsmen. Gambhir ran down the pitch without waiting for Yuvraj’s call who was looking at the ball and the former was run-out for 50 runs. It became a tense situation for the 42,000-strong crowd at Motera, Ahmedabad when skipper Dhoni was caught four overs later for only seven.

At 187 for 5, India were staring at another collapse. But Suresh Raina had been drafted in place of Yusuf Pathan for this match, and he had fielded with much gusto earlier. It was his time to stand with the bat now.

He was involved in a brisk partnership of 74 runs off only 10.1 overs with Yuvraj for the sixth wicket. It seemed a surprise for they scored at more than seven per over, saving India from a highly precarious position. While Raina scored a quick-fire 34 off 28 balls, Yuvraj completed his fourth fifty in the tournament, replete with scintillating cuts and drives accounting for eight fours. Together the duo washed away any hopes Australia had of a fourth consecutive world title, making sure that ODI cricket will finally have a new champion after fifteen years. 

Chetan Narula

© Cricket World 2011

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