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25 Mar 2011

AHMEDABAD: It was billed as the blockbuster and the quarterfinal, the second of the 2011 Cricket World Cup at the Sardar Patel Stadium at Motera on Thursday lived up to the expectations.

Blog: Can we beat Pak and some other questions

India survived a Ricky Ponting masterclass (104, 118 balls, 7x4, 1 x6) and some tense moments to beat four-time World Champions Australia by five wickets and 14 balls to spare to set up a potentially explosive clash with arch rivals Pakistan in Mohali on March 30.

The hosts rose to the occasion in style, first with a superb bowling and fielding effort, then the great master Sachin Tendulkar set the stage alight with glorious strokeplay to put the side on cruise mode before some quintessential Indian harakiri.

The Aussies sensing a chance changed colours, bowled with venom, sledged hard and even bled - Brett Lee getting a cut under his eye while fielding. They did it all but couldn't stop India from progressing.

There were many heroes for India as they set about their chase of 261, but Yuvraj Singh, yet again, emerged as the knight in shining armour coming up with a match-winning knock of unbeaten 57 runs besides picking up two wickets earlier. The effort earned the southpaw his fourth Man-of-the-match award in this World Cup.

Also rising to the challenge was young Suresh Raina with a gutsy unbeaten 34. Yuvraj and Raina realized 74 runs from 61 balls just when the Aussies had turned on the screws.

There was some intense drama before though courtesy a horrible mix-up between Gautam Gambhir (50; 64b, 7x4) and Yuvraj (their third in the span of five minutes) resulting in the run out of Gambhir. Yuvraj edged David Hussey to Cameron White at slip and even before Yuvraj could realize, Gambhir had dashed towards him from the non-striker's end and it was a point of no return.

Five overs earlier, Virat Kohli swatted a full toss straight down the throat of Michael Clarke at mid-wicket.

Skipper MS Dhoni cracked a thundering boundary, but another attempt off Lee saw Dhoni cut the bowler straight to Michael Clarke at point. The Indians had slid to 187 for 5 in 37.3 overs and seemed to be spoiling their own party till Yuvraj and Raina came into their own.

Of course, Tendulkar (53; 68b, 7x4) was on a different planet altogether as he caressed, punched, pulled, drove and also played the upper cut, the way only he can to raise hopes of the ton of tons.


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