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Rhythm divine in uncharted territory

No one had given India any chance to be in the semifinals. But after an upset win over the West Indies in the opening game, we knew we were in the running, writes Roger Binny.

cricket Updated: Jun 25, 2008 00:05 IST

When Kapil Dev bailed us out with an amazing innings of 175 not out against Zimbabwe, a last four spot was within striking distance. The game against Australia was a virtual quarterfinal and our confidence was touching the sky.

But it was still uncharted territory for us and we were tense before the game. On the other hand, the Australians seemed confident and as soon as they won the toss, they put us in with an eye on the English conditions.

Our batsmen did well to reach the 240-run mark and I was happy to have contributed 21 towards the total lower down the order. In a 60-over game it was not an imposing target but we knew it gave us a decent chance to upset the Aussies.

Balwinder Sandhu sent back Trevor Chappell early and when I came on as second change, a partnership between (Graeme) Wood and (Graham) Yallop had just begun to take shape.

I had been in great rhythm throughout the tournament and was confident of getting a breakthrough against the lefthanders. The reward came in the first over when Wood nicked one to (Syed) Kirmani.

Australian skipper David Hooks was my next victim and when Yallop gave a return catch, making it three in three overs in my first spell, we were on top and ready to go for the kill.

We knew the Australians were not ones to give up easily and if we relaxed, it would be at our own peril. That's when Madan Lal came to the party. He caught Rodney Marsh in front of the wicket and half the Australian side was back with just 52 on the

board.

He claimed three more while Sandhu and I chipped in with one each as India registered a 118-run win. Only Allan Border put up some resistance but he ran out of partners and was finally castled by a beauty from Madan Lal.

The win was all the more sweet as we outplayed the Aussies in all departments — be it fielding, bowling or batting.

For me, it was an icing on the cake to get my first man-of-the-match of the tournament.