What a great game it turned out to be….In my earlier post, I had written that the Aussies were the favourites to win the game. Maybe some one forgot to tell that to the Indian team…or if they did, they didn’t believe it.
India did start a bit tentatively though- the very first ball was nicked by Gambhir for the ball to fall short of Gilchrist. India had made just 36 by the end of the 6th over with Sehwag back in the dressing room. By the end of the 8th over, India had lost both openers and the score was just 41. Enter Yuvraj Singh – and then the game turned on its head. The very second ball he faced was dispatched off for a six and that was just the beginning. Yuvraj made 70 of 30 balls and dominated the bowling – it included 5 sixes and 5 fours! The 3rd wicket partnership between Uthappa and Yuvraj yielded 84 runs in 6.3 overs which ended up being the backbone of the Indian innings. Uthappa scored 34 (of 28) and Dhoni chipped in with 36 (of 18). India finished the game on 188.
189 was a still very gettable target and the Aussie openers have been playing well throughout the tournament. India needed a couple of good performances from its bowlers and that’s what they got. RP Singh got the new ball to bowl first as reward for bowling well in the tournament, but it was Sreesanth’s performance that kept India in the game. He started badly with a four of his very first ball but took the wicket of Gilchrist in his first spell and even bowled a maiden. He was completely fired up and bowled like the Sreesanth we have come to know and admire. And when Hayden and Symonds were taking the game away from India, he came back to take the all important wicket of Hayden. Hayden made 62 (of 47 balls) and his innings included 4 sixes and 4 fours. When Hayden departed, Australia needed 55 of 32 balls and they still looked on target to win with 2 more overs left from India’s fifth bowling option (which had gone for 38 in the first two)
Pathan then took out Symonds and when he was out, Australia needed another 33 of 20 balls with 6 wickets remaining. Bhajji was the other bowler who was outstanding for India and when he took the wicket of Clarke in his last over with a yorker (what a huge wicket that was?), Australia needed 27 from 12 balls. RP Singh bowled one of the best overs under pressure conceding just 5 runs and it then came down to 22 runs in the last over with Hussey on strike.
Dhoni juggled his bowlers well and captained the side brilliantly, but when Joginder Sharma, who had gone for 31 runs in his two overs, came back to bowl the last over there were a few nervous moments. He started with two dot balls and then took a wicket. The match was finally sealed in favour of India.
Playing at Durban meant that it was like playing in India and Harsha Bhogle commented that he hadn’t seen so many Indian flags in a match even in India! There was even a sign in the crowd that said “India has home advantage”.
India now play Pakistan in the final. The tournament organizers couldn’t have asked for a better finale to the tournament. It is a great comeback for two teams that were knocked out of the World cup in the preliminary round just a few months ago.