India bank on small but brisk partnerships
India had never beaten Australia in a major tournament while chasing. Their last win over Australia in a World Cup was also way back in 1987. In this game, though, India's strategy to rotate their bowlers throughout the innings did not allow any Australian batsman other than Ricky Ponting to settle down. Faced with a stiff target of 261, India pinned their hopes on their strong batting and the key to the victory was the way they constructed partnerships at the top of the order. While Australia had two decent stands in the beginning of their innings, they lost few wickets in the middle, which limited their score to 260. India, despite not having any huge partnerships, had stands of 44, 50 and 49 for the first three wickets and scored at a healthy run-rate throughout.
With the dismissal of MS Dhoni, Australia had a sniff when India required 74 runs off 75 balls. What happened next was stunning. Yuvraj Singh hit three fours off a Brett Lee over and with Shaun Tait gifting five wides in his next over, India were back in the contest. Yuvraj and Suresh Raina scored 27 runs off the 40th and 41st overs, bringing down the equation to a much more manageable 41 off nine overs. The partnership featured seven fours and a six, but more importantly 22 singles and five twos. Yuvraj Singh made his fifth fifty-plus score in the World Cup. His tally in a single tournament is second only to Sachin Tendulkar's seven in 2003.
From the batting worm for both teams, it is clear that India started their innings at a higher run-rate than Australia and maintained the difference till the end. The crucial sixth-wicket stand between Yuvraj and Raina pushed the scoring-rate up at a point when it looked like Australia would control the game. India's decision to open the bowling with R Ashwin was a brilliant move as it did not allow Shane Watson and Brad Haddin to get away to a flying start. Regular bowling changes throughout the innings produced wickets and slowed the rate of scoring. In contrast, the Australian attack was erratic and gave away 16 wides.
|Team||1st wicket||2nd wicket||3rd wicket||4th wicket||5th wicket||6th wicket||7th wicket|
|Australia||40, 4.00||70, 5.45||30, 3.82||10, 3.52||40, 5.10||55, 7.10||15*, 10.00|
|India||44, 5.38||50, 5.00||49, 4.74||25, 5.17||19, 4.56||74*, 10.27||-|
Australia's decision to go with a pace-heavy bowling attack proved a little costly in the end. However, the performance of their slow bowlers on a track assisting spin was far from convincing. Australia's spinners averaged 61.00 in the tournament, the highest among the eight quarter-finalists. Despite conceding less than five runs per over, the Australian spinners picked up only one wicket. The Indian spinners in contrast picked up four wickets in the Australian innings.
Some of the other stats from the game are highlighted below
- Ricky Ponting scored his fifth century in World Cups and his sixth against World Cup defeat after his 102 against West Indies in 1996.
- Sachin Tendulkar went past the milestone of 18,000 runs in ODIs. He also made his 20th fifty-plus score in World Cups which is comfortably higher than the second-placed Ponting, who has 11.
- Yuvraj Singh became only the fourth player to score over 300 runs and pick up ten wickets in a single World Cup. Kapil Dev was the first player to do it when he achieved the feat in the 1983 World Cup.
- The win is India's first in a major tournament against Australia in a chase. Their earlier six chases had ended in defeats.
- It is also the first time that Australia have failed to reach the semi-finals since the 1992 World Cup.
- India won their first game in Ahmedabad after four consecutive losses.