Wednesday 21 March 2018

Cricket: Yuvraj helps India end Australia's reign

Gerard Hughes

India sparked wild celebrations among its billion plus fans after ending Australia's remarkable 12-year reign as World Cup champions with a thrilling five-wicket win in the quarter-finals yesterday.

Chasing 261 for victory, India fumbled and faltered, but half-centuries from Sachin Tendulkar (53), Gautam Gambhir (50) and Yuvraj Singh (57 not out) helped them overwhelm the target with 14 balls to spare for a mouth-watering semi-final with Pakistan.

However, when India lost the wickets of Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and Gambhir, it seemed as if India's chances of stopping the Australian juggernaut were all but over.

Tendulkar seemed to be cruising to his 100th international century, but the otherwise erratic Shaun Tait managed to induce an edge that sailed into Haddin's gloves and a deathly silence descended at the 48,000-seater stadium.

Gambhir had just reached his 24th fifty when he ran himself out after an almighty mix-up with Yuvraj, having survived two such comical communication breakdowns immediately before the dismissal. Yuvraj, however, kept his cool and saw India through by smashing the winning boundary.

While Yuvraj celebrated, Ponting's men were left to digest their earliest World Cup defeat since 1992. It will be the first time in almost two decades they will not feature in the final of the showpiece event. "The pressure was something else. Beating Australia, the three-times world champions was something special," man-of-the-match Yuvraj said.

Meanwhile, Australia captain Ricky Ponting said his team were simply "not good enough".

"Probably with 15 overs to go it was a touch-and-go sort of game, but Yuvraj and (Suresh) Raina played too well," said Ponting. "It's disappointing to bow out, we are a better team than we have played."

Opting to bat first, Australia rode Ponting's 30th ODI century to post 260-6, which seemed a strong total. Ponting (104) won the toss and thought 250 would be a good total.

Batting first, he and Brad Haddin (53) ensured the total exceeded his expectations, despite India using seven bowlers against them, including Tendulkar who last rolled his bowling arm back in 2009 against the same opponents.

Opener Shane Watson (25) fell after a sluggish start but the Haddin-Ponting partnership yielded 70 brisk runs to steady the boat. Yuvraj was lurking around and underlined his worth as a part-time bowler by dismissing Haddin and Michael Clarke.

Mike Hussey's stay was cut short by Zaheer, but his brother David (38 not out) played a cameo in Ponting's company. But it was not enough. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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