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The Report by Sidharth Monga
March 30, 2014
India 159 for 7 (Yuvraj 60) beat Australia 86 (Ashwin 4-11, Mishra 2-13) by 73 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Highlights: India secure top spot in Group 2 with thumping win
We've been expecting you, Mr Singh. Many an India fan wanted Yuvraj Singh out because he had been plodding and prodding around this tournament even though he took most wickets and scored most runs for India between the two World Twenty20s. India, though, persisted with him, even giving him an extra chance at the expense of Shikhar Dhawan who made way for Ajinkya Rahane who simply had to be tried. Yuvraj struggled here again, reaching 13 off 21 before he exploded to end up with 60 off 43, showing just why MS Dhoni has shown so much faith in him. That innings provided a middling innings the acceleration it needed, after which R Ashwin's wily spin triggered an almighty collapse from Australia, who were already out of the tournament and weren't quite there in the chase.
Pakistan's win over Bangladesh earlier in the day had already knocked Australia out, but India still had a lot of interest in this match. All their previous wins had come winning the toss and bowling first, so they wanted to bat first and also wanted to play around with their combination a little. Rahane's inclusion and Mohit Sharma's were the decisions made before the toss, and even though Dhoni finally lost a toss - his first in 13 internationals - India got their wish when George Bailey inserted them in.
India's worst first 10 overs of the tournament followed as Rohit Sharma fell early, and Rahane and Virat Kohli failed to convert starts. Suresh Raina didn't look at home either, and at 66 for 4 in the 12th over, India were struggling for the first time in the tournament. Yuvraj had only just about start timing the ball, and in the next over Brad Hodge provided him a long hop to get away a bit. James Muirhead came on to bowl the 14th. Australia's spinners had suffocated India by then, conceding just 40 in seven overs.
This time, though, the legspinner missed his length two balls in a row. You couldn't have got away with that against the vintage Yuvraj. You couldn't get away with that against this Yuvraj either. He sent them both sailing over midwicket for sixes. He had seen blood now. Some of his silken yet brutal shots came out in the end, most notable of which was his movement away from the stumps to get under a full ball outside leg and send it inside-out over long-off for six.
All of a sudden, the bowlers were the ones fumbling, not sure where to bowl because missing the areas even by inches resulted in sixes. Seventy runs came in five overs starting with the 14th, and even though Yuvraj didn't finish off in style he had given India what looked a fighting total, especially given the form of India's attack.
The only problem with the total was you had to make allowance for the fact that India were up against a side that had nothing to lose. It showed in how Aaron Finch threw his arms at the first ball of the chase, and got four for it. However, Australia were too reckless and India too disciplined for this to become a blitz of any sort. The daredevilry of a side that was on its way out was all there, but the execution wasn't. After India had bowled a few tight overs at the top, keeping them down to 19 for 1 in four overs, it was all six or out.
Yes, there were five sixes, but there were five dismissals doing that as Ashwin spun his way to the best figures by an Indian spinner in Twenty20 internationals, and Australia crashed to their third-worst defeat. Now if the New Zealand-Sri Lanka match is not washed out in the other group, India will face South Africa in the semi-final.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Sidharth Monga
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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