But India soon silenced all the protests back home with roaring performances in the games to follow. In the match against Zimbabwe, Sachin Tendulkar 81 and Ganguly took 3 wickets as India won by 83 runs. They went on to teach Namibia a lesson or two about one-day cricket smashing their bowlers for a 300 plus score, Sachin and Sourav scored centuries. It was the turn of Ashish Nehra to shine against England. His six-wicket haul helped India successfully defend 250. India then chased down 274 set by Pakistan thanks to a 75 ball 98 by Tendulkar.
India then, cruised to the semi-finals winning all three Super Six matches. They beat Kenya by 6 wickets with Ganguly scoring a century. Sri Lanka too proved to be no challenge as they won by a huge margin; Sachin made 97 and Srinath took 4 wickets. India then took revenge for the humiliation they faced in New Zealand during their tour just prior to the World Cup. Kenya's shocking win against Sri Lanka meant they had a semi-final berth. India had little trouble in clearing this hurdle and with it, they gained a grand entry into the final of the tournament. From a team initially struggling to beat the minnows, India had done exceptionally well to progress this far in the tournament.
Sadly, it all fell apart against Australia in the finals. India was never in the hunt in the game. The openers Gilchrist and Hayden got the Aussies off to a rollicking start. Once the duo was dismissed, Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn batted through to the 50 over mark as Australian smashed a record total of 359. Ponting remained unbeaten on a century while Martyn was not out on 89. India needed something special from Sachin Tendulkar to even dream of getting anywhere close to the total. But he fell in the first over itself to Glenn McGrath and India's hopes were all but dashed. Virender Sehwag played a lone hand with 82 but 234 was all India managed.
Sachin was once again the hero of the World Cup and not surprisingly was the Man of the Tournament even though he failed when India needed him the most. Zaheer Khan was among the top 5 wicket-takers in the tournament. During this phase, many felt India was the 2nd best ODI team in the world. And the Indians justified it completely losing only two games to the No1 side in the world. This world cup Indian team included the following players: Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Dinesh Mongia, Parthiv Patel, Sanjay Bangar, Ajit Agarkar, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif.
(Last Updated on : 20-05-2013)
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