Their faces told the story. The smiles had evaporated and were replaced by anxiety and creased foreheads. This is what pressure does to even the most seasoned campaigners.
With so much at stake, the Indian and Australian players couldn’t help but feel the weight of expectations. After all, they were playing one of the biggest games of their careers. And at stake was a place in the World Cup semi-finals.Only those with the biggest of hearts and the best of skills can survive this test. They are defined as big match players.
On Thursday, it was India’s bravehearts Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir who walked away with all the glory.
The three hit half-centuries in a nerve-wracking run-chase to power India to a last-four clash against arch-rivals Pakistan on Wednesday.
With Australia’s ouster for the first time since 1999, international cricket will have a new world champion.
This tournament is proving to be Yuvraj Singh’s World Cup and he didn’t make any mistake. He was India’s star performer in the five-wicket win (14 balls to spare), both with the bat and the ball, to win his fourth Man of the Match award of the tournament. After taking two wickets for 44 runs in his 10-over spell, Yuvraj hit an unbeaten 57 off 65 balls.
Though Yuvraj Singh got his fourth man-of-the-match award in the tournament today, he sounded modest and said it was a team effort that was crucial. "I feel good to have contributed to the team but the victory cannot be achieved by one person, it's a team effort," he said.
India's five-wicket triumph in Ahmedabad means they will tackle Pakistan, who reached the last four with a crushing 10-wicket win over the West Indies, in Mohali on March 30.
But Ponting was left battling to extend his nine-year reign as Australia one-day captain despite the 36-year-old hitting a composed 104 in his team's below-par 260 for 6.
Brad Haddin made 53 and the recalled David Hussey pitched in with an unbeaten 38 off 26 balls.
Yuvraj Singh then hit 57 not out -- his fourth fifty of a tournament where he is averaging over a hundred -- to see India home with 14 balls to spare.
Sachin Tendulkar missed his chance to clinch a landmark 100th international century but his 53 was crucial as was Gautam Gambhir's 50. (With AFP inputs)