Champs gone

India set up semis with Pakistan
Yuvraj Singh smashed an unbeaten half-century under pressure as India dispatched defending champions Australia from the World Cup with a five-wicket win at Ahmedabad yesterday. Their victory set up a dream semifinal against archrivals Pakistan at Mohali on March 30.
It had looked to be slipping away from the hosts when captain MS Dhoni perished to a spectacular catch at point by Michael Clarke. At that point, the home side were on the verge of exiting their own party, with 74 runs still needed off 77 deliveries with only five wickets in hand.
But Yuvraj and Suresh Raina took the fight to the Aussie pace attack to take India home with 14 balls to spare. Yuvraj remained unbeaten with 57 off 65 balls while Raina played the perfect foil at the other end with an unbeaten 34. It was Yuvraj’s fourth fifty in the tournament. The southpaw, who has been terrific in the tournament so far, struck eight boundaries while a cool and collected Raina, who hit a massive six off Brett Lee to end Australia’s chance of a comeback, also hit a couple of boundaries.
It was Australia’s second successive defeat and the most painful after their record unbeaten run of 34 undefeated World Cup matches. It also ended Ricky Ponting’s dream of being the only man to win the World Cup as captain thrice, despite a valiant century.
While the defeat effectively ended Ponting’s Cup career, his long-time rival Sachin Tendulkar is still in the hunt for a maiden World Cup trophy. The legend missed out on his much-anticipated hundredth international century, igniting hopes of a dream quarterfinal century with a well-compiled 53 before being caught behind off speedster Shaun Tait with the score on 94 for two.
AFP adds, Ponting scored his first international century in over a year as the champions put up 260 for six.
The star batsman’s 104 was his first hundred in 39 international innings since he made 106 against the West Indies in a one-day international in Brisbane last year.
Ponting, who’d managed just 102 runs at 20.4 in five previous innings this tournament, had come into the match amidst reports he could be quitting international cricket completely after the World Cup.
However, the 36-year-old Tasmanian demonstrated his enduring class in a 118-ball innings featuring one six and seven fours.
He was out late when he reverse-swept Ravichandran Ashwin straight to Zaheer Khan at short third man.
David Hussey, recalled in place of the dropped Steven Smith, made a useful 38 not out and helped Ponting add 55 for the sixth wicket after Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey and Cameron White all fell cheaply.
Back-up spinners Ashwin and Yuvraj Singh took four wickets between them with left-arm quick Zaheer taking the other two wickets.
But lead off-spinner Harbhajan Singh’s 10-wicketless overs cost 50 runs.
Ponting survived lbw appeals on 86 from Zaheer Khan and on 91 from old adversary Harbhajan, a particularly strong shout.
But as India had used up both their reviews, there was no comeback against the umpires’ not out verdicts
Together with Haddin, Ponting shared a second-wicket stand of 70.
Australia, after winning the toss and making India field in the heat of the day, got off to a steady start through openers Shane Watson and Haddin.
But a change of ends for Ashwin had them roaring again when he bowled Watson for 25 after the all-rounder was beaten by the turn as he attempted a violent slog-sweep.
Soon after Ponting came to the crease he appeared to exchange words with Harbhajan before umpire Ian Gould intervened.
Wicketkeeper Haddin completed a 57-ball fifty by sweetly striking Munaf Patel through midwicket for his sixth four.

 

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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