Indians KO Aussies
India ended Australia's 12-year World Cup domination yesterday with Sachin Tendulkar leading a star-studded batting line-up to a five-wicket victory which set up a semi-final classic against arch-rivals Pakistan.
The Australians, unbeaten in 34 consecutive World Cup matches until back-to-back defeats to Pakistan and India within six days, slumped to their worst run at the marquee limited-overs event since 1992.
Captain Ricky Ponting answered the critics who called for him to retire or be fired as captain, grafting 104 from 118 balls to anchor Australia's 260 for six, but it wasn't enough to save the defending champions.
Instead, it was the brilliant but sometimes brittle Indian batting line-up that won out over Australia's raw pace trio of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait.
Tendulkar (53) and Gautam Gambhir (50) set the course but in a seesawing match, India almost conspired to lose it in a jittery middle-order slide before Yuvraj Singh guided the hosts home with an unbeaten 57.
Tendulkar crossed 18,000 ODI runs en route to his 94th ODI 50, getting a reprieve on 47 when his thick edge off Brett Lee fell an inch in front of Jason Krezja at third man.
He almost got another life on 53 when he edged Tait behind and started walking, but was called back so the umpire could check for a no-ball, suspecting the Australian paceman may have bowled from too wide in the crease. A long review showed Tait's delivery was legal, and Tendulkar was out, making India 94-2 in the 19th over.
The capacity crowd which had screamed and yelled every time Tendulkar scored was stunned into silence.
The pressure was back on India's batsmen, who had been heavily scrutinised after three batting collapses in the group stage.
Gambhir and Virat Kohli moved the score to 143 in a 49-run stand before Kohli swatted a David Hussey full toss directly to Michael Clarke at midwicket in the poorest piece of cricket of the innings - until then. It got worse.
After batting confidently to reach his half century from 63 balls, Gambhir got himself run out after a sequence of inexplicable mix-ups with Yuvraj. India slipped to 168-4.
And when Mahendra Singh Dhoni, playing his 100th ODI as India captain, was out for seven with the total at 187, another collapse loomed,
But Yuvraj held it together with Suresh Raina, hitting the winning runs and earning a man-of-the-match award for his exploits with bat and ball.
"We competed hard, there's no doubt about that, we thought we had a chance at the halfway stage,'' Ponting said. "Probably just didn't bowl as well as we needed to bowl.''
Australia's pacemen misfired badly after Australia posted a challenging total in a quarter-final featuring the world's two top-ranked teams
Apart from the wicket of Tendulkar, wayward Tait gave India too many runs. He conceded 17 runs in his first two overs and his final return of 1-52 from seven overs included two no-balls and six wides.
Shane Watson made the first breakthrough, dismissing big-hitting opener Virender Sehwag for 15 with the total at 44 in the ninth over.
Ponting looked like he might have taken a brilliant catch from a Gambhir prod in the 11th over but umpires referred the decision because the Australian captain wasn't sure and replays showed the ball landed just in front of him.
Tendulkar smacked consecutive boundaries to start the next over from Johnson and was in commanding touch until his dismissal, which leaves him still chasing his 100th international century.
Tendulkar is playing in his sixth World Cup and is yet to win the title - India's only win was in 1983.
AUSTRALIA (maximum 50 overs)
S. Watson b Ashwin 25+B. Haddin c Raina b Yuvraj Singh 53R. Ponting c Khan b Ashwin 104M. Clarke c Khan b Yuvraj Singh 8M. Hussey b Khan 3C. White c and b Khan 12D. Hussey not out 38M. Johnson not out 6Extras (lb2, w9) 11Total (6 wkts, 50 overs) 260
B. Lee, J. Krejza, S. Tait did not bat
Fall of wickets: 1-40, 2-110, 3-140, 4-150, 5-190, 6-245
Bowling: Ashwin 10-0-52-2 (w1); Zaheer Khan 10-0-53-2; Harbhajan Singh 10-0-50-0 (w8); Patel 7-0-44-0; Yuvraj Singh 10-0-44-2; Tendulkar 2-0-9-0; Kohli 1-0-6-0
INDIA (target: 261 off 50 overs)
V. Sehwag c Hussey b Watson 15S. Tendulkar c wk Haddin b Tait 53G. Gambhir run out (White/D. Hussey) 50V. Kohli c Clarke b D. Hussey 24Yuvraj Singh not out 57+M. Dhoni c Clarke b Lee 7S. Raina not out 34Extras (lb3, w16, nb2) 21Total (5 wkts, 47.4 overs) 261
R. Ashwin, H. Singh, Z. Khan, M. Patel
Fall of wickets: 1-44, 2-94, 3-143, 4-168, 5-187
Bowling: Lee 8.4-1-45-1 (w3); Tait 7-0-52-1 (nb2, w10); Johnson 8-0-41-0 (w2); Watson 7-0-37-1 (w1); Krejza 9-0-45-0; Clarke 3-0-19-0; Hussey 5-0-19-1
Result: India won by five wickets (14 balls remaining)
Series: India advance to the semi-finals
Man of the Match: Yuvraj Singh (India)
Umpires: M. Erasmus, I. Gould