The wounds of the defeat in the final of ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 to Australia were still fresh. Only five players since the heartbreaking defeat had survived in the national side – Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan.
The two countries next locked horns in the high-profile tournament after eight years. It was the quarter-final of the 2011 World Cup and India played under the leadership of MS Dhoni, while Australia were still under the watchful eyes of Ricky Ponting.
When the Australian skipper scored a century in the quarter-final on March 24, the moment certainly brought back the harsh memories of the 2003 final. Ponting’s unbeaten 140 in the final had taken Australia past 350 before they bundled India out cheaply for 234, thereby breaking a million Indian hearts.
However, history was not going to repeat itself. India had a maverick in the form of Yuvraj Singh, who at the time, was not aware that he had cancer. His fitness was affected and he vomited blood several times during the tournament, but these hurdles were not enough to break his spirit and stop him from turning his dream into a reality.
Let’s go back to the events that transpired on March 24, 2011, and recollect Yuvraj’s heroics in the quarter-final between India and Australia:
Ponting’s century had boosted Australia to 260 in the first innings. Australian all-rounder Shane Watson then drew first blood by removing Sehwag early in the innings. Just when Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir had settled down, Shaun Tait sent the former back to the dugout. That was followed by the early dismissal of Virat Kohli.
While Australia thought they had India in trouble, they were unaware of what Yuvraj had in store for them. The southpaw made his intentions clear when he got off the mark with a boundary off a full toss from David Hussey.
After the dismissal of Gambhir and Dhoni, he knew he had a huge task in finishing the game for India. Yuvraj was coming off a superb century against the West Indies in the previous match and had thus far been India’s best player.
He did exactly what was expected from a senior player in a crunch situation. He looked in no hurry and remained calm at the crease. Despite being ill, he looked for the singles, converted the ones into twos and punished the odd loose delivery. He recorded his fourth fifty in the World Cup as he remained unbeaten on 57 off 65 balls.