From the archives: Yuvraj's stroke of genius against Australia

Yuvraj Singh struck the sphere, off Brett Lee, with a surgeon’s precision between cover and mid-off, and the sweeper cover, plugging the gap, had no chance. An emotional Yuvraj sank on his knees and then waved his bat in delight.

Yuvraj Singh celebrates hitting the winning runs as India overpowers Australia in the quarterfinal at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera in Ahmedabad on March 24, 2011.   -  Getty Images

Not too long ago, the air was suffused with tension at the packed Motera Stadium. The occasion was big, the quarterfinal of the ICC World Cup in 2011. And host India was taking on defending champion Australia.

Australia, defending 260, had made inroads when Suresh Raina joined Yuvraj Singh. The contest was in the balance at 187 for five in the 38th over.

But then the rampaging Yuvraj Singh (57 not out) and Suresh Raina 34 (not out) settled the issue with some bold strokeplay against the shell-shocked Aussies. And Yuvraj’s final blow, the winning shot, was a stroke of genius.

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The contest was all but over when Brett Lee thundered in. It was the 48th over and the crowd, exuberant, was expectant. But the Aussies were not giving in without a fight on a sweltering night.

There was a strong inner ring on the off-side. A mid-off, cover and point, backed by a sweeper cover stood guard. Lee’s line was going to be around the off-stump.

Lee’s delivery was a tad fuller than good length on the off-stump. Yuvraj’s trigger movement took him forward and he then met the ball with the grace and flow of a natural.

The left-hander struck the sphere with a surgeon’s precision between cover and mid-off, and the sweeper cover, plugging the gap, had no chance.

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Everything was right about Yuvraj’s stroke. The southpaw was balanced with a still head, he had picked the length quickly and employed his feet and the downswing of the willow as it came down from a high back-lift was a thing of beauty.

And the ball was sent on its way to the boundary with the sweet portion of his willow. An emotional Yuvraj sank on his knees and then waved his bat in delight.

Australia’s reign from 1999 had ended in the World Cup. Fittingly, the winning hit was a stroke of genius.