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India overwhelm Australia to enter final
September 22, 2007 23:29 IST
Last Updated: September 23, 2007 14:31 IST
Powered by a gusty knock from Yuvraj Singh [Images], India turned in an inspired performance to beat Australia by 15 runs and storm into the final of the Twenty20 World Cup in Durban on Saturday night.
In a humdinger of a semi-final, India rattled up 188 for 5 in their allotted 20 overs and then held their nerve to restrict Australia to 173 for 7 and set up a title clash with arch-rivals Pakistan in Johannesburg on Monday.
Pakistan beat New Zealand by six wickets in the first semi-final earlier.
It was a remarkable display by the Indians, who had played just one Twenty20 match before this inaugural edition of the tournament. Yuvraj's 30-ball blitzkrieg of 70 earned him the Man of the Match award.
Adam Gilchrist [Images] (22) and Matthew Hayden [Images] (62, 47b, 4x4, 4x6) started Australia's chase with customary disdain for the Indian bowling, choosing to go after India spearhead R P Singh in a bid to unsettle his rhythm. But just when things threatened to go out of hand, S Sreesanth [Images] castled Gilchrist and then Irfan Pathan [Images] had Brad Hodge (11) caught by Joginder Sharma, which left Australia reeling at 68 for two.
Runs, however, kept flowing, with Andrew Symonds [Images] (43 off 26 balls) and Hayden imposing themselves on the Indian bowlers.
Hayden hit Virender Sehwag [Images] for two sixes in the same over en route to a 40-ball fifty.
Sreesanth, however, yorked Hayden in his comeback over to stem the run flow, and two overs later Irfan castled Symonds
Harbhajan pumped life into the match by castling Michael Clarke [Images] (3) and the game became an edge-of-the-seat thriller with the Australians needing 22 runs off the last over bowled by Joginder.
The Haryana all-rounder began with two dot balls, dismissed Mike Hussey in the third, conceded two in the fourth and castled Brett Lee [Images] in the next. A boundary off the last delivery was of no consequence as India were home.
Earlier, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni [Images] did not hesitate to bat first after winning the toss. But openers Virender Sehwag (9) and Gautam Gambhir [Images] (24) could not give him the start he was expecting.
Cramped by a pulled muscle and straitjacketed by the Australian attack, Sehwag smacked Mitchell Johnson's first ball for a four but then departed to the next, offering a simple catch to Adam Gilchrist.
Uthappa got an early life on 5, when he unconvincingly sliced Stuart Clark and Michael Clarke, at backward point, got his fingers on the ball but could not hold on to it.
Johnson, however, ensured that another wicket was not far away as he got Gambhir to pull one to Brad Hodge, who held a well-judged catch.
Comeback man Yuvraj opened his account by sending Clark over the deep square leg boundary for maximum to give an idea about what was on the cards.
He and Uthappa then went hard after the Australians to make up for the slow start and suddenly it started raining fours and sixes.
The 11th over produced 19 runs for India, Andrew Symonds being the bowler, and then it was Clark's turn to receive some harsh treatment in the 14th over, which yielded 21 runs. Yuvraj, in the process, raced to a 21-ball half-century, pulling Clark for a breathtaking six.
Not to be left behind, Uthappa hit Johnson for successive sixes in the 15th over but was run-out in the next as India lost their third wicket for 125. Along with Yuvraj, Uthappa forged an 84-run stand in just 6.3 overs to pull India out of trouble.
Captain Dhoni hit Symonds for two fours in a row to get into the groove, while Yuvraj went berserk at the other end.
Seeing no other option, Gilchrist tossed the ball to Clarke and the part-time bowler finally did the trick.
Yuvraj, having clouted the bowler for a massive six in the previous ball, holed out to Mike Hussey and that was curtains on his 30-ball blitzkrieg of 70 that was studded with five boundaries and as many towering sixes.
Dhoni struggled with his timing towards the end but still scored 36 valuable runs from 18 balls to swell the tally.