Friday, March 25, 2011

World Cup 2011 .... India vs Australia - Quarterfinals !!!

One Billion hopes of die hard Indians translated into overcoming the Yellow fever in World Cup Cricket, as India convincingly outsmarted & outplayed World Champion Australia at Ahmadabad, a la 'Chak de' episode getting etched in history for a long time coming.
Shane Warne's twitter prediction that Australia will win by 17 runs, went abegging, while, Saurav Ganguly's prediction that India will this time prevail came true -- these snippets would probably do a lot of rounds across the length & breadth of the country for the next couple of days, as India goes delirious on this victory.
True Australia is not the same powerhouse as it has been for the last decade, which made them invincible champions for three times in succession; true the team lacked bowling firepower of McGrath & Warne, batting lacked the depth of Gilchrist & Hayden at the top and Symonds & Martyn in the middle; but still Australia has been the no 1 ODI team till now, & beating them out of World Cup surely would make every Indian rejoice.

Ponting won the toss & as expected, decided to bat first. He showed the world the class act that he is by holding the Aussie innings together with a masterful century. He had been in scratchy form till now in the tournament, & when he walked into the middle at the fall of Watson, he did not look confident. But he dug in & held on & played with grit to reach his 30th ODI hundred & mentally challenged the Indian team on field yet again. It was Zaheer & Yuvi getting valuable wickets at crucial stages with the ball, along with able assistance from Ashwin & Bhajji, that restricted Australia to a par score of 260 for 6. They probably fell short by 20-25 runs though.

In reply, India started well, with Sehwag customarily hitting the first boundary & Sachin getting into the stride. The Aussies tried hard, as they usually do, but the Indians looked a better side today, & even when Dhoni perished and India were 5 down with still 70 odd runs to get, Yuvi along with Raina looked confident to take India through. They did not disappoint the vociferous crowd by allowing another middle order collapse, & when Yuvi hit Brett Lee through the covers for the winning boundary, the stadium exploded in joy & cheering. Aussie bowlers lacked bite today, as Tait & Johnson sprayed the ball all over, & Kreiza could not do justice to his spinning ability. As a milestone, while Yuvi went past 8000 runs in ODI, Sachin completed 18000 runs in ODI today, as he got to his 94th half century. Where will this man, nay GOD of cricket stop!!!!! This was also Captain Dhoni's 100 ODI match as a Captain & he would certainly remember this victory till the end of his career.
Indians today were a determined lot, bowling with venom, batting with depth & most importantly and probably fielding to their best abilities. India now moves into the semis to meet Pakistan in what would be another mouth watering contest at Mohali.
A bleeding Bret Lee towards the final overs of the game, epitomised the Aussie spirit of never giving up, but also reflected on how the Champions are a bleeding unit now going downhill. Despite a brilliant century by Captain Ponting, this could well be his last ODI match, & certainly his last World Cup match. Hats off to a Champion cricketer, who carried the Aussie baggy green cap rather well. That he was blessed with an extremely gifted & talented bunch of world beating cricketers, when Steve Waugh handed over the captaincy to him, he certainly had marshalled his resources well. However, I have always disliked Ponting for his unsportsmanlike behaviour over the years. Even today, he forced the Umpires to have a relook when he took a bounced catch off Gambhir. He likes sledging & putting pressure on the opposition & Umpires, & would like to win by hook or crook, without a qualm, a typical Australian. On the other hand, our Sachin walked again today after Tait got him, as he did in the last match against West Indies. This Australian team will now probably have to build back brick by brick, as Allan Border had done for them way back in 1987, & Border will always be one of the very respected Aussie cricketer, for playing the game straight, like Adam Gilchrist & very unlike Ponting or Greg Chappell.
Life really comes in a full circle.

Man of the Match : Yuvraj Singh for his unbeaten 57 runs to take India to victory & 2 wickets for 44 runs while bowling. This is his 4th Man of the Match award in the tournament, as he is currently the Most Valued Player of the tournament with one hundred, 3 fifties & 11 wickets till now.