Singh on song to halt Australia

The one-day world champions, Australia, bowed out of the ICC Knockout Trophy at the quarter-final stage at the Gymkhana Club in Nairobi yesterday. India defeated them by 20 runs after Yuvraj Singh struck an accomplished 84 in his first international innings.

The one-day world champions, Australia, bowed out of the ICC Knockout Trophy at the quarter-final stage at the Gymkhana Club in Nairobi yesterday. India defeated them by 20 runs after Yuvraj Singh struck an accomplished 84 in his first international innings.

The 1999 World Cup winners had seemed well on the way to victory. Chasing 266 to win, Australia had two overs of their allotted 50 taken away due to their slow over-rate. Opener Mark Waugh fell cheaply but Adam Gilchrist and Ian Harvey provided the platform for the limited-overs maestro Michael Bevan and Ricky Ponting.

They added 73 for the fourth wicket and were well established at the crease, but the selectors had gambled by packing the side with bowlers and their strategy backfired as smart work in the field, with the Indians pouching two fine catches and effecting a brace of excellent two run-outs, left their lower order exposed.

The 18-year-old Singh hit 12 fours in his 80-ball innings before he was caught by Shane Lee off his own bowling.

Singh's innings was a delicious main course following a tantalising entrée involving arguably the world's finest batsman, opener Sachin Tendulkar, and the most lethal paceman, Glenn McGrath. The little master gave India a flying start with three sixes off successive overs from McGrath as 50 runs were raised by the 10th over, but Brett Lee then induced Tendulkar to edge to Damien Martyn at first slip for 38 off 37 balls.

McGrath had a distinct off-day, failing to take a wicket while conceding 61 in nine overs. The Australians also looked a touch sloppy in their fielding and Mark Waugh was guilty of dropping Singh in the slips when he had made 41.

Singh had not been required at the crease as India cruised past Kenya on his debut. He saw his captain, Saurav Ganguly, fall for 24 and then the in-form Rahul Dravid go cheaply to leave India on 90 for 3.

The 18-year-old Punjabi left-hander, who is regarded as the cleanest striker of the ball in India after Tendulkar, reached his 50 off just 47 balls as he first added 40 with Vinod Kambli and then 63 for the fifth wicket with the veteran all-rounder Robin Singh.

Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie each returned 2 for 39 but Steve Waugh was eventually left to rue having put India in.

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