When India beat Bangladesh in the quarterfinals of World Cup 2015, it became the only country to win all three quarter finals that have been included in the ODI World Cups. India’s first quarterfinal triumph in 1996 was an absolute thriller.
India batted steadily but Ajay Jadeja’s formidable 45 off 25 took India to a fine 287-8. The Pakistani openers got off to a flying 84-run stand but Venkatesh Prasad ended that and his tiff with Aamer Sohail has reached legendary status.
Aamer was the captain as Wasim Akram missed the match and he was later accused of chickening out and had his effigies burnt back home.
The second quarter final win in 2011 was also historic. Australia had won 3 straight World Cups and was on a tournament winning streak of a whopping 25 matches.
They set a competitive target of 261 and an all-round batting performance saw us chase that with ease. Man of the match Yuvraj Singh picked up two wickets and was 57 not out.
The third quarter was also a thriller because India had made just 99 runs in the first 25 overs and clawed their way back from there. Rohit Sharma was sublime, the bowling was spot on and the fielding was brilliant.
The Indian bowling also became the first in the history of the World Cup to take all 10 wickets in 7 straight matches. Now as we head for the semi-finals, we have just a slight edge there. We have won three out of five of our ODI World Cup semis. Overconfidence killed us in 1987 and we collapsed in 1996.
In 1983 our bowlers blew away England for 213. In 2003 we had an easy win against Kenya. In 2011 it was an exciting match with Pakistan where Sachin Tendulkar was man of the match.
Of course if there is one man who is master of the semi-final, then it has to be MS Dhoni. He has won 4/4 ICC tournament semi-finals and he will be eager to extend that to 5.
In the 2007 T20 World Cup with Australia, we set an imposing 188/5 with Australia and we won thanks to a blistering 70(30) from Yuvi.
In the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka, we restricted Sri Lanka to just 181/8 thanks to Ishant Sharma’s 3-33 which proved to be a winning spell.
In the 2014 T20 World Cup, we chased a stiff target of 173 set by South Africa thanks to Virat Kohli’s 72 off 44.
Now that we are meeting Australia in the semis, to will be an exciting contest. The Aussies have the home advantage and also thrashed us in the 2003 World Cup final.
But what of knockout matches between the two in ICC tournaments? The two have met a total of 4 times and surprisingly India has won all of them. Australia has never beaten India in a quarter or semi-final and India will be eager to keep things that way.
India and Australia never met in a World Cup knockout match from 1975-96. The first such meeting was in the quarter finals of ICC KnockOut Trophy. Batting first Sachin Tendulkar scored a brilliant 141 off 128 to propel India to 307-8. Australia lost by 44 runs.
That was some year for Tendulkar versus Australia. In the Coca Cola Cup earlier in the year, he had hit 80 and 143 against Australia in the leagues and 134 in the final. In 1998, Sachin played 7 matches against Australia and made 621 runs at an average of 88.7 and strike rate of 106.
We met again in the quarters of the 2000 edition and this time it was the brilliance of Yuvraj Singh that saw us cross the line. It was Yuvi’s batting debut so it was quite commendable.
The other two instances are the T20 World Cup in 2007 and ODI World Cup in 2011 as mentioned above.
It may be remembered that Dhoni also blanked Australia 2-0 in the finals of the 2008 triangular tournament.
So it is not something new for Dhoni as he has already won a tournament in Australia. He also became the only Indian captain to win a bilateral ODI series in New Zealand in 2009.
Either way, the India-Australia semi-final in Sydney promises to be a mouthwatering affair. While the first three quarterfinals were one-sided affairs, the semi-finals promise to be much more competitive.
In finality, Dhoni has a 4-0 record in ICC tournament semis while India has a 4-0 record versus Australia in ICC knockouts. In one stroke both can become 5-0!
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/