Ricky Ponting won the toss at Motera, Ahmedabad in the quarter final of the World Cup 2011 and elected to bat on Thursday. Ponting silenced his critics with a swash-buckling century made with grit and determination. In reply to his century Sachin made a half century and in the process completed his 18000 runs in Cricket, but it was Yuvraj Singh who ultimately matttered the most so far as the outcome of the match was concerned.
Despite Ponting’s century, Australia were able to score 260 runs only. R.Ashwin Harbhajan Singh did not give anything away to the opposition and Zahir Khan stuck at will.
For Indian batting, Tendulkar had made the base by his half-century required for the rest of the team to stand on but it was Yuvraj alone who stole the show. With his single handed determination India managaed to eliminate the Aussies in the quarter final. India has now been set up with a spine-chilling encounter with Pakistan in the semi-final.
India was heading into the jaws of defeat upto the 40th over but by then Yuvraj had ensured the turn-around of things for the Indians. Suresh Raina gave him ample suppport and in the 41st over Bret Lee was bludgeoned to the fences for 14 runs.
Yuvraj’s glance through the slip cordon to the boundry line off a Bret Lee yorker was perhaps the best shot of the day and Bret Lee looked at him with total disbelief.
Had Yuvraj not taken over the reigns of the match, India were surely doomed in the 30th over when Virat Kohli was out caught at mid-wicket. Dhoni was stumped while attempting and missing a mighty heave and Gautam Gambhir was itching to go back to the stadium by committing suicide on three occassions. He was successful the third time when Yuvraj played the ball to the mid-wicket and Gautam ran off for a non-existent run and was stranded half-way.
The batting Powerplay was the final hurdle, but Raina, who gave admirable support to Yuvraj after Dhoni’s exit, walloped the first ball from Lee over long-on and Australia’s fight evaporated with that shot.
India required 93 runs from 101 balls at that stage, but they slipped further into the abyss as MS Dhoni got out after looking edgy. He nearly got involved in a run out, had a big swing and a miss against Lee and perished next delivery, cutting to point to leave India needing 74 from 75 balls. It was then that Yuvraj decided to play the World Cup innings of his life.
Before Yuvraj, India’s chase revolved almost entirely around Sachin Tendulkar. It was a slow pitch, but Tendulkar played some shots that defied the nature of the track. Tendulkar was going great guns but he edged a delivery from Tait to Hadin to do the rest. The Motera Stadium went into a stunned silence as everyone was expecting the Century of the centuries fron the master-blaster.
Ponting played one of his best knocks but this will not be remembered for long because of the three times Champions defeat in the quarter-finals. The entire Aussies batting revvolved around him. He was cautious as well as aggressive and at times played his shots with utmost ease and at times he even controlled his aggression. Since the pitch was a slow one, he had shown great technique to encounter the spin of the India trio of Harbhajan, R.Ashvin and Yuvraj Singh.
Australia’s down-slide in the middle overs began with the shot from Michael Clarke, who top-edged a slog-sweep against Yuvraj to long-on in the 31st over. Zaheer dismissed Michael Hussey with the slower ball to leave Australia at 140 for 4 in the 34th over. Ponting and David Hussey took the batting Powerplay in the 44th over and added 44 vital runs without losing a wicket.
Ponting must have thought he had done all he could to ensure Australia remained in the competition and sailed to semis but he did not till then know the spellings of Yuvraj.
Yuvraaj Singh was named the Man of the match for his half century and two wickets.
Scores – India 261 for 5 (Yuvraj 57*, Tendulkar 53, Gambhir 50) and Australia 260 (Ponting 104, Haddin 53, Ashwin 2-52, Yuvraj 2-44)