India pulled off a dramatic over the reigning champions, Australia, in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 quarterfinal match to set up a thundering semi final against arch rival neighbours, Pakistan, in Mohali in a week’s time.
The India v Australia match was always going to raise temperatures and that is exactly what happened at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad, as Yuvraj Singh kept a cool head over his shoulders in the end to steer India to a memorable victory, one that would see Australia exit without the ICC Cricket World Cup trophy for the first time since 1999.
If Pakistan broke Australia’s World Cup winning streak, India extinguished the lights for Australia, this despite the Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, braving the odds, poor form and negative press, scored his sixth World Cup century to guide Australia through their innings to post a total of 261 for India to win.
In fact, it was the Brad Haddin-Ricky Ponting partnership for the third wicket that yielded seventy runs to make sure Australia’s middle order was not exposed early. Keeping a steady and low profile, Ponting batted for the better part of forty overs and ensured that Australia were going to pose a challenging enough total for the hosts and favourites in the knock out contest.
Ravichandran Ashwin gave India the crucial breakthrough by way of the wicket of Shane Watson and he and Yuvraj Singh, with two wickets apiece, made sure Ponting could never really rally another partnership together of substance, with David Hussey played a bit part with thirty-eight runs.
India started steadily despite losing Virender Sehwag early. Sachin Tendulkar guided India through the first hurdle with a fortifying half century in a fifty run partnership with Gautam Gambhir. When Tendulkar was dismissed, the onus lay on Gambhir to carry on and he did in the company of Virat Kohli before the partnership was broken by David Hussey.
There was a strange interlude after Kohli was lost and India were positioned at three down for 143. Gautam Gambhir, while partnership Yuvraj Singh, put the latter in plenty of trouble on at least two occasions running between the wickets. And eventually Gambhir’s scatterbrained decision, after playing himself so well in the context of the chase and the situation, made him pay.
That decision could have been the turning point of the match because not only did India lose Gambhir on the score of 168 but soon found themselves at five down for 187 with Mahendra Singh Dhoni sent back as well.
The match now stayed at a run a ball or thereabouts, but India were quickly running out of batsmen after keeping up a steady chase. The onus was thrust upon Yuvraj Singh, who has been the man in form, and the batsman accompanying him was Suresh Raina, who did not even get a look in until the previous match against the West Indies where he failed to vindicate the decision to substitute Yusuf Pathan.
However, Raina turned out to be the right man for the job, rotating the strike, spanking the loose balls and taking the pressure off Yuvraj Singh who was able to flow freely once more as India reduced the run deficit and eventually winning the match by five wickets and fourteen balls remaining to send the defending champions crashing out of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.