India and Australia square off in a virtual quarter-final in Mohali on Sunday evening. It's a mouthwatering clash, in a strange way. Both sides have been underwhelming so far and with a stake in the semi-finals at stake, it could be anybody's game.
But if India needs a good omen, it would do well to take its mind back by five years to March 24, 2011. That's the last time India met Australia at home in a global tournament.
Then too, a semi-final place in the World Cup was at stake – though in ODIs. Australia batted first at Ahmedabad and reached 100 for the loss of only one wicket in the 21st over. Yuvraj Singh's tidy economical bowling helped stem the run-flow, but thanks to a battling century from skipper Ricky Pointing, Australia reached 260/6 in their 50 overs.
As long as Sachin Tendulkar was at the crease, the match seemed like it was going India's way. But his dismissal in the 19th over, followed by Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambir, brought Australia right back into the match. They did dismiss Mahendra Singh Dhoni as well, but Yuvraj Singh had had enough. Along with Suresh Raina, Singh scored a brilliant half-century to take control of the chase. There were no more nervous moments as India easily cantered into the semi-finals, with five wickets and and more than two overs to spare.
Both Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina will take the field again today. Can they replicate some of the magic from 2011?