Yuvraj shows the way, India in final
Aussies lose by 15 runs after Yuvraj’s 30-ball 70 & longest sixDurban, September 22:Yuvraj Singh can never fake it; the pain, in these cases, can come and go in a matter of 48 hours. And thankfully, the Indian vice-captain, back after missing a game due to an elbow injury, remained in sublime touch to help India reach 188/5 in 20 overs — a total that was to prove too much for the mighty Australians, who fell 15 runs short.
India now take on Pakistan — they beat New Zealand in the other semi-final — in the Twenty20 World Cup final on Monday, an astonishing turnaround for both teams after their first-round exits from the World Cup in West Indies just six months ago.
Today, after Yuvraj’s blitz, the Indian bowlers, led by Sreesanth — 4-0-12-2 — didn’t let the Aussies off the hook. As skipper MS Dhoni said after the match: “It was a team effort in the end.”
But then, it was all set up in the first place by Man of the Match Yuvraj Singh.
Once again, after that six-pack over last week, it was the left-hander blazing away at the front — right through his 30-ball 70, he never looked in any sort of discomfort. Just five dot balls, five fours and five sixes in that innings. In fact, Yuvraj passed the elbow test very early, in the second ball he faced — pulling the one off Stuart Clark over the mid-wicket with a perfect rock-back on the backfoot.
His most spectacular six was the second one — off Brett Lee — that he flicked off his legs towards square-leg which was deposited on the fourth row from the top, travelling a distance of 119m to be the longest hit of the tournament so far. The fun had just started. The run-deluge started in the 11th over of the Indian innings when Andrew Symonds was brought into the attack. Symonds’ first over went for 19 runs as Yuvraj hit him twice over and Uthappa got his turn once.
With third-man and fine-leg both up and a packed Aussie boundary ring on the leg-side to stop the flurry of shots, Yuvraj went over the cover fielder, twice, to get eight runs from similar-looking shots off Stuart Clark.
Yuvraj reached his 50 from just 20 balls with an array of shots, also dabbling with luck in little blips, when the ball fell just short of Michael Clarke and Matthew Hayden. But his style of mixing elegance with power-hitting made a sumptuous supper at the packed 18,399-sized Kingsmead crowd.
The energy rubbed off on Uthappa at the other end as he carted Mitchell Johnson for two consecutive sixes — the first over long-off and then just over mid-wicket, but the enterprising third-wicket partnership of 84 runs in 30 balls was left mangled in a moment of indecisiveness and confusion as Uthappa was stranded near Yuvraj at the non-striker’s end when a direct throw from Symonds hit the stumps direct.
Next man Mahendra Singh Dhoni was always straining to hit hard, and straight, to carry on the attack with equal zest as India got big chunks of runs between the 14th and 16th overs, with blocks of 21, 14, 14 as Symonds came in for more punishment at the hands of the Indian skipper.
Yuvraj, meanwhile, made his exit and Dhoni took over for his 36 off 18 balls. He hit his first six over long-on and then twisted on his axis for a next-ball four at fine-leg while new man Rohit Sharma came to the party with a plundering six over long-on in the 19th over.
Another block of 18 runs preceded a 13 from the 18th over as India finally managed a late onslaught after a limping and cautious start that Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag.
• Yuvraj Singh made the highest individual score in Twenty20 cricket for India by scoring 70 off 30 balls, with five fours and an equal number of sixes in the second semi-final against Australia at Kingsmead, Durban on Saturday. Virender Sehwag, who scored 68 off 52 balls against England at the same ground on September 19, held the previous record
• Yuvraj also scored the second fastest fifty in Twenty20 cricket by completing 50 off 20 balls with three fours and four sixes during his knock. Bangladesh’s Mohammed Ashraful also got his fifty off 20 during his 61-run knock against West Indies at Johannesburg on September 13
India: G Gambhir c Hodge b Johnson 24, V Sehwag c Gilchrist b Johnson 9, R Uthappa run out 34, Yuvraj Singh c Hussey b Clarke 70, MS Dhoni run out 36, R Sharma not out 8, I Pathan not out 0
Extras (lb-6, w-1) 7, Total (5 wkts, 20 overs) 188
Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-41, 3-125, 4-155, 5-184
Bowling: Lee 4-0-25-0; Bracken 4-0-38-0; Clark 4-0-38-0; Johnson 4-0-31-2; Symonds 3-0-37-0; Clarke 1-0-13-1