Jubilant media gears up for India-Pakistan clash

Indian team avenged their 2003 World Cup final defeat to Australia in style, according to local media

New Delhi: Mar 25, 2011

A jubilant media gloated over India’s World Cup quarter-final victory over Australia that ended their 12-year reign as champions and set up a last-four clash with Pakistan.

The five-wicket win achieved under pressure at the packed Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad on Thursday proved to be all the more sweeter as it booked India a semi-final against their arch-rivals in Mohali next week. “Bring on Pakistan” screamed the front-page headline in the Mail Today newspaper which hailed India’s cricketers for upstaging a brilliant 104-run knock by Australian skipper Ricky Ponting.

“Out of form and under fire to quit before the match, the Aussie skipper played possibly his greatest World Cup innings, single-handedly, bloody-mindedly dragging Australia to the brink of possible victory with a century. “But the boys in blue had other plans.” India’s win adorned the front pages of all newspapers and covered the smallest of details of the day-night clash.

The Times of India said the country was excited about the chance of their favourite son Sachin Tendulkar achieving his 100th international ton in front of home fans in the April 2 final in Mumbai. “With a mouth-watering semi-final beckoning against Pakistan at Mohali and the possibility of a slot in the final, Sachin still has the opportunity to make history in the grandest of settings.” The paper said the match-up against Pakistan should have all the trappings of a potboiler.

“It’s a match fans, organisers and advertisers have been fantasising about, and the fact that it will be Pakistan’s first on Indian soil since 26/11 (the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks) lends an extra edge, if any was needed.” The Hindustan Times exhulted in the end of the Australian era. “With Australia’s ouster for the first time since 1999, international cricket will have a new world champion,” it said on the front page, splashed with a huge picture of India’s Yuvraj Singh celebrating the win.

Yuvraj was named man of the match for the fourth time in a row in the tournament for grabbing two wickets and making an unbeaten 57. Under a banner headline reading ‘Y for Yuvi (Yuvraj) V for vendetta’, the daily said the Indian team had avenged their 2003 World Cup final defeat to Australia in style. “For a team which won the last three World Cups, it was an inglorious exit. India soaked up the pressure much better than the hard-boiled Australians.”

But the daily also had some kind words for the beleaguered Ponting. “Tonight Yuvraj must be the most-loved Indian on the planet but do spare a thought for Ponting. In his last World Cup match, he played an innings of a lifetime and no Indian would hate him now.”