Mohali: India beat Pakistan in the semi-final by 29 runs. Sachin Tendulkar scored 85 runs and Wahab Riaz took 5 wickets.
The second semi-final of ICC World Cup 2011 between India and Pakistan lived up to all the hype and buzz that had engulfed the two nations before the match. India was always considered a favorite to win but everyone was wary of Pakistan’s often unpredictable and mercurial methods. Once the day finally dawned, it was India that played really well under pressure and won the all-important match against its arch-rivals.
India won the toss and decided to bat first. Virender Sehwag took Pakistan’s star fast bowler Umar Gul to the cleaners in the first 5 overs. In a tremendous batting display, he scored a quick fire 38 off 25 balls which included a flurry of boundaries. His innings was brought to an end by an unexpected hero for Pakistan, fast bowler Wahab Riaz.
Sachin Tendulkar, on the other end, borrowed all the nine lives from the proverbial cat and proceeded to use most of them during the match. He had an LBW decision reversed by UDRS. When stumped, his foot was found to be just grounded and two of Pakistan best and most experienced fielders dropped easy catches off his batting. Then wicket keeper Kamran Akmal dropped a catch though it was a tough chance as compared to the earlier lapses. Sachin went on to make 85 and that cost Pakistan the game.
On the other end, Wahab Riaz was bent on justifying his inclusion in place of speedster Shoaib Akhtar. His five wickets left the Indian spectators stunned. The noise in the stadium was conspicuous by its absence while Wahab bowled. Indian wickets fell at regular intervals in spite of generosity of Pakistan fielders who were caught napping many a time. In the end, it was Suresh Raina’s responsible innings that gave Indian fans much to cheer about.
India finally managed to reach 260/9 in 50 overs though it was expected that with such an impressive batting line-up they will go beyond 300 runs. Pakistan’s start was slow and cautious and they managed only a 106/3 in first 25 overs. Yuvraj Singh took two wickets in two overs to put Pakistan batting under extreme pressure.
As runs became hard to get, the required run rate climbed up steadily and all hopes of winning seemed to desert Pakistan. The team managed to score only 231 runs before all ten wickets fell by the end of last over.
It was a disappointing loss for Pakistan because the total was not very big and they had a good start but Indian bowling and fielding combined with some rash shot selection by Pakistan’s batsmen tilted the result in India’s favor. India will now play co-hosts Sri Lanka at Mumbai in the final match of ICC World Cup 2011.
Though there is sadness and heartbreak for Pakistan’s die-hard cricket fans at this loss, becoming semi-finalists is also a testimony of Pakistan’s immense cricket talent and resilience. Before the tournament, there was a huge scandal of spot fixing that cost Pakistan its two finest fast bowlers and premier opening batsman. They also lost a wicket-keeper who sought asylum in England.
From the lowest ebb under media glare and legal wrangling, Captain Shahid Afridi and coach Waqar Younis re-built a team that ended Australia’s record of remaining unbeaten in 34 World Cup matches. The only team to defeat finalists Sri Lanka on their home ground is also Pakistan and Shahid Afridi remains the tournament’s leading wicket-taking bowler.
Result: India won by 29 runs.
Man Of The Match: Sachin Tendulkar (India).
Note: For watching the great match, please click here.
Comments by both captains and by man of the match:
Shahid Afridi (Captain of Pakistan): ”First of all I’d like to congratulate the Indian cricket team and the Indian nation for this great victory, and wish them all the best fo the final,” he says, magnanimously. “Wahab really bowled well today, but we missed some opportunities. They played better than us. We didn’t make partnerships, we played some irresponsible shots, and a partnership was crucial. I want to say sorry to my nation. We tried our level best, and we enjoyed ourselves at this tournament.”
MS Dhoni (Captain of India): ”We got off to a fantastic start through Sehwag and Sachin. As the game progressed the wicket got slower, and in the middle overs it was difficult to score. Shahid bowled really well, and it was important to just play the bowling with respect. 260 was a good score for this pitch. It was turning, we read the wicket wrong and that’s why we went with three seamers, but in the end the seamers bowled really well too. We don’t have bowlers who can bowl 140 plus, overall we really on what you might call deception – change of length, line and pace. Zaheer did really well, over the years with experience and in IPL and things like that he’s become really smart. We’ve struggled at times in this tournament, but that’s the beauty of this game.”
Sachin Tendulkar (Man Of The Match): ”First of all I’d like to thank everyone here for terrific support, without that this wouldn’t have been possible, and not to forget the whole team’s efforts today. We just had to make sure we got to a decent, fighting total. When we started I was thinking of 310 to 315, whch was par score for me, but the way the ball started stopping and spinning, something closer to 270 was par.
Going back to Mumbai for this event is going to be a wonderful occasion, we’ve got to be calm and focussed. This has been memorable, and something I will cherish all through my life.”