cricket20 :: India Set Up Classic Finalé
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India Set Up Classic Finalé

India booked themselves a place in the World Twenty20 final against archrivals Pakistan with a momentous 19-run win over the 'mighty' Australians at Kingsmead.

Set 189 to win, the Aussies gathered just 173 for seven due to some solid line and length bowling from the Indian attack.

Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden, as has become the norm, did the damage at the top of the Aussie chase smashing a stand of 36 in five overs. Gilchrist (22 off 13 balls) had a good old swoosh across the line of a length delivery from Sreesanth, the Aussie failed to connect, the Indian did.

Brad Hodge (11), having batted at seven for much of the tourney, came in at three and soon hacked one straight down the throat of Joginder Sharma waiting at short fine leg.

Hodge's wicket paved the way for Hayden (62 off 47) and Andrew Symonds to set the nerves amongst the thousands of Indian fans present. The big-hitting combo put on 66 before the former was on his way back to the pavilion having attempted a similar 'stroke' to fellow opener Gilchrist, Sreesanth's second big scalp of the clash.

Symonds (43 off 26) nailed a few more over the fence to keep the momentum going but the dreadlocked monster backed away in an attempt to free his arms one too many times, only to see Irfan Pathan peg back his off-stump.

Michael Clarke's dastardly tour continued as he ran down the wicket to spinner Harbhajan Singh, only managing to york himself - bowled for just three.

Brad Haddin and Mike Hussey scrambled a few more singles to close off an epic spell from Harbhajan (1 for 24 in four), leaving the Aussies needing 27 runs off the final two overs.

Haddin swung at everything under the floodlights in the penultimate over, but the guile of Rudra Pratap Singh restricted the flummoxed reserve keeper and Hussey to just five runs, leaving them needing 22 off the final over.

Joginder Sharma had taken some serious tap from Hayden and company earlier in the day but was entrusted with the very pressurised last over. He did not disappoint his countrymen, jamming in two dot balls before having Hussey (13) caught on the fence.

Brett Lee came to the crease with 22 balls needed off the last ball and promptly headed back to the dugout, bowled for two in two. Joginder on fire and the Aussies staring down the barrel. Mitchell Johnson was left to swing and miss the last ball as India, player and fan alike, went bonkers with the epic triumph.

Earlier after winning the toss and opting to wield the willow first, Mahendra Dhoni's crew did well to post a total of 188 for five.

In front of a near capacity crowd of 18500, Robin Uthappa, Yuraj Singh and Dhoni were the men who ensured their nation made it to a total that the opposition would struggle to chase down.

Left-arm speedster Mitchell Johnson was the one that rocked the Indian top-order when he had Virender Sehwag (9) caught behind and Gautam Gambhir (24) taken on the midwicket fence thanks to a brilliant tumbling catch from Hodge.

That left Uthappa and Yuvraj to steady ship for an over or two before tucking into some undisciplined bowling. Yuvraj, who on Wednesday plundered England's Stuart Broad for six sixes in one over at the same ground, was again the chief aggressor, bringing up his half-ton in just 20 balls.

Uthappa, after banging Johnson over long-off and then cow corner for two sixes on the trot, perished the ball after as a direct-hit from cover courtesy of Symonds saw the Indian star's innings of 34 from 28 balls come to an end.

He and Yuvraj had added 84 for the third wicket stand, setting up a great platform for Dhoni and company to tuck into a final five-over onslaught.

Man of the match Yuvraj's plundering (70 off 30) for the day ended a ball after his fifth six, the cheap and nasty part-time spin of Michael Clarke stealing a wicket thanks to Hussey's safe hands at wide long-on.

Dhoni took over the charge and proved that straight bat shots still count in the cross-bat shot fiasco that is Twenty20 cricket. Some picturesque straight drives coupled with some sharp running between the wickets with Rohit Sharma brought him 36 off 18 deliveries.

With Johnson having kept the first four deliveries of the last over of the innings to just five runs, Dhoni had little choice but to attempt a suicidal single off the penultimate ball. Gilchrist hit, Dhoni was gone, leaving Pathan to snatch four lucky leg-byes past the keeper.

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