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Yuvraj the match winner .. again

YuviThe second quarterfinal of the ICC world cup between India and Australia will go down as one of the classic matches between the two great teams. Ultimately, India, came out on top and has effectively ended Australia’s reign as the world champs that lasted for over dozen years.

This match had all the right ingredients to be a classic match. The rivalry between the 2 teams has been legendary second only to that of India versus Pakistan. Both teams have legendary batsmen like Sachin and Ponting, both of them potentially playing in their final world cup and out to create a legacy for themselves and for their teams. Both teams out to prove a point and highly motivated to win.  Sure enough this turned out to be a match that will be remembered and talked about for a long time.

After winning the toss Australia chose to bat on a dark brown looking wicket. They found out in the first over itself that the batting was not exactly going to be easy on this wicket given the turn it produced right from the outset. The openers Haddin and Watson started cautiously and put up an opening partnership of 40 runs before Watson lost his cool and tried to slog sweep Ashwin only to lose his wicket. Ponting looked really determined as he walked to the middle his beginning was very subdued compared to his previous innings against India particularly it was completely different Ponting compared to the man who literally batted us out of the 2003 World Cup final with his punishing inning of 140. It turned out to be slightly different story today. Though Ponting ended up scoring his 5th Century in the world cup and 30th ODI century it was not as well supported by his team members as was done by Aussie juggernaut in 2003 finals. Indian bowlers led by Yuvraj, Zaheer, Harbhajan and Ashwin held their nerve and got the necessary wickets at regular intervals. Indian bowlers were supported excellently by the fielders. Raina, Kohli, Yuvraj and even Harbhajan would have saved 15-20 crucial runs with their fielding. Australia lost 3 wickets for about 50 runs in the middle of the innings and was 190 runs for 5 wickets in 42nd over. David Hussy played a superb knock of 38 runs in 26 balls that allowed Australia to reach the score of 260. Given the wicket 260 would have been a fighting score and I am sure Ponting and Company would have smelled another victory against India.

Indian innings was started by Sehwag and Sachin. Sehwag did not look comfortable facing the onslaught from Lee, Johnson and then Watson in the end and holed out to Hussey and square leg on 15 from 22 balls. Sachin on the other hand was in the great form again. On his way to a fluent looking fifty Sachin crossed some of the significant milestones among them - 18,000 runs in ODI and became the highest run scorer in the current world cup. He was out to a blinder from otherwise wayward Tait. Again today he knew he had nicked the ball and he started walking only to be stopped briefly by umpire to verify for the no balls. Gambhir playing at number 3 played a responsible inning and scored a patient 50. His mis-communication on running calls with Yuvraj finally costed him his wicket. Before that though India had lost Kohli who got a good start but in trying to accelerate scoring rate he ended up giving a simple catch to midwicket on a full toss delivery. India was 143 runs for 3 wickets and started to look vulnerable. But Yuvraj continued his majestic form with the bat and opened his account with a cracking boundary  on the very first delivery a sure sign of a man who has now gained his groove back. After the mishap with Gambhir,  Dhoni joined Yuvraj but could not last for long and was caught off the bowling of Brett Lee. It looked like Ponting’s bowling change was going to seal the deal for them and India had started truly looking down the barrel. After Lee, Pointing introduced Tait in the attack and India needed 72 runs from 67 balls with only the last genuine batting pair at the crease. On that last ball of Tait’s over, came the turning point of the match. Tait hurled one of his fastest deliveries and without blinking his eyes, Yuvraj cracked a tight one to the boundary over the point for four runs. Raina too must have got truly encouraged and motivated by that power shot. Lee continued to bowl at Raina his short pitched deliveries but it was Raina this time that dispatched Lee to the boundary with another very confident shot. Yuvraj too joined the party that same over and Lee went for 14runs. Once Lee was neutralized it was Tait’s turn and he too got severely punished and went for 13 runs in the 41st over. Those 2 overs brought the Ahmedabad crowd to their feet, atmosphere changed and so did the look on Ponting’s face. Yuvraj and Raina never looked in doubt after that and clinically batted to take India home to a memorable win that ended the Aussie claim on the world cup after 12 long years. Yuvraj in the interim completed his 4th fifty in addition to a Century in the last 6 matches. He has remained unbeaten for 3 times and each time has won the man –of – the match award in this world cup.

Now come India’s biggest challenge the in-form Pakistan team. I hope our guys continue in the same spirit, confidence and determination and then we can say “Mumbai itni door nahi hai”..

Go India ……..!! let’s not look back now, even South Africa has bowed out of the completion and only 2 more wins will get India the most coveted trophy in the game of cricket. Go India let’s not look back now..