Sizzling Yuvraj sparkles in famous win

Yuvraj Singh lets out a victory cry AFP

An awe-inspiring Ricky Ponting dazzled and Sachin Tendulkar hit a delightful fifty but it was the imperious Yuvraj Singh who stole the show to lead India to an exciting semi-final encounter against Pakistan. On a dry pitch, aiding turn, India couldn't remove a wonderfully solid Ponting, but found a way around him to hold Australia to a competitive 260. Tendulkar set the base and the middle order threatened to choke, but Yuvraj played a blinder to charge India to a famous win.

Sometimes, they say, one four can change things around. That clich came alive today, in the final ball of the 39th over, with India needing 72 from 67 deliveries, when Yuvraj spanked Shaun Tait for a stunning four over backward point. It oozed of skill, impishness and dare under fire. Until then, in the preceding few overs, India choked and spluttered badly to almost hand the game to Australia. That Yuvraj hit over point sensationally turned the game on its head.

The next over proved to be the game-breaker as Brett Lee was looted for 14 runs: Suresh Raina played the most assured pull of his life to crash the first delivery to the boundary and Yuvraj carved the final delivery over point, but it was a shot in between that really reflected the enthralling contest. It was a screaming yorker from Lee, from around the stumps, and Yuvraj crouched, opened the bat-face and stabbed it through to the third man boundary. Lee looked stunned, and you felt that was the moment when India affected the jail break.

Until Yuvraj took ownership of the chase, the pressure-cooker situation had got to India and they were beginning to choke. In five mad overs between the 32nd and 37th, just after Virat Kohli had swiped a full toss from David Hussey straight to midwicket in the 29th over, it was absolute pandemonium as India looked hell bent on self-destruction. Gautam Gambhir tried to run himself out three times and was successful on the final attempt. India required 93 runs from 101 balls at that stage, but they slipped further into the abyss as MS Dhoni got out after looking edgy. It was then that Yuvraj decided to play the World Cup innings of his life.