BeyondHeadlines Sports Desk
Ahmedabad: Yuvraj Singh played an innings of a lifetime to steer India to a historic World Cup quarterfinal victory over title holders Australia by 5 wickets.
The win sets-up a dream semi-final between India and Pakistan on the green Mohali pitch that will decide on who would get a final shot at cricketing immortality.
The duo of Yuvraj and Raina had let loose on the Aussie bowlers in the crunch times, hitting boundaries with panache. The result was the tilting of pressure more on Ponting’s side, much to the joy of the Motera crowd.
Australia were on top of the Indian batsmen at the onset of the death overs as MS Dhoni (7) was out soon after his arrival on the pitch. The fifth wicket came at a time when the game was tilted more in the favour of the visitors and the required rate was building-up by the ball.
Just before the fall of the Indian skipper, an extremely bizarre string of miscommunication gaffes between Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj saw the former run-out after scoring a half-century.
However, it was a different scheme unfolding for Yuvraj and Raina, who held on to their nerves in front of thousands of cheering fans and hostile Aussie on-field behaviour to knock the three-time consecutive champions out of their trademark tournament.
Tendulkar had slammed his 94th ODI fifty that helped him cross the 18,000 run-mark in ODIs.
In the first half of the match, Australia managed to post an extremely competitive total of 260/6 against India on a spinning Motera pitch, setting up the most exciting World Cup match so far.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting stood-up to the task with his fifth World Cup century, sixth against India and the first one after a gap of 18 innings and gave his team a fighting chance in the quarterfinals. He was claimed by Ravichandran Ashwin at a score of 104 runs in the second last over of the innings.
Michael Clarke (8) was claimed just when it was needed the most by Yuvraj Singh. The in-form spinner got his second scalp of the day when the batsman tried to hit one beyond the ropes. Before the strike, Brad Haddin (53) was claimed by Yuvraj at a much needed time after Australia crossed the 100-run mark with a constant ticking of the scorecard.
Zaheer Khan had come back in the death to claim the wicket of Cameron White. He had earlier struck a hard blow as he clean bowled Mike Hussey (3).
India had started off with the spin of Ashwin and the Oz openers threw caution to the winds, not going all guns blazing from the word go.
Australian openers Watson and Haddin took a cautious approach at the start of the proceedings, playing the balls on merit while the Indian bowlers went full throttle to get the early breakthroughs.
With the win over former champions Australia, India have turned-on the heat on the opposition teams, sending their top contender ship for the World Cup 2011. The semi-final at Mohali, the one between cricket’s most intense rivals – India and Pakistan will surely be an all time World Cup classic battle.