After certain events in the group, India were guaranteed a spot in the quarter-finals even without setting foot on the park. So the India-West Indies encounter was for India to decide their opponents - Australia or Sri Lanka. After electing to bat, man-in form Yuvraj Singh promised a good game and delivered. The stylish southpaw made a classy century and picked up a couple of wickets. But a sight to sore eyes was the induction of R Ashwin. The offie bowled with purpose and picked up two crucial wickets. But take nothing away from the edge India have in the bowling department with the lanky spinner and his repertoire of deliveries.
FInally, the big boys came to Nagpur. The India-South Africa clash was said to be the litmus test. And the Indian batting again showed its class. Sachin Tendulkar was again on the cusp of greatness as the Little Champion played a sublime knock of 111. The Nawab of Najafgarh was not behind as Sehwag too joined in the party. The duo strung a partnership of 142 runs. Only Gambhir followed with a decent contribution to the total, as the last nine wickets were lost only adding a miserable 29 runs to the total. Dale Steyn being the tormentor-in-chief. India finished with 296. A target that was just not enough given the meidocre state of the Indian bowling. With some minor hiccups in the middle, South Africa did overhaul the target.
After their historic win against England by three wickets, Ireland were now the giant-killers of Group B. After wining the toss and electing to field the Indians came up against the dogged resistance of the Irish who used all of 48 overs to post a total of 207. The bowling attack consisting of Zaheer, Munaf and Harbhajan failed to knock the wickets off early and it needed the wit and skill of part-timer Yuvraj Singh who starred with the bat and ball and helped India knock off the runs, but not before making a meal out of the chase. The Indian batters again to the rescue, but the real test did lie ahead. India vs Ireland
MS Dhoni and company had approached this tie with a hint of caution. They knew one slip up here and the World Cup dream could be shattered in the capital of India. The Netherlands had been riding on the performances of Ryan ten Doeschate and did not expect the whipping boys treatment. Zaheer Khan again held the ever-fragile Indian bowling together and produced another incisive display of fast bowling. Chawla and Harbhajan both picking two wickets apice, Netherlands were sent back after scoring 189. India again lacked the ruthless authority, this time surprisingly in their batting. The Men in Blue made heavy weather of the paltry total and took all of 37 overs to achieve the score. Zaheer, the only shining star of the match. No wonder he is regarded as one of the best in the modern game.
A match that will go down in World Cup history as an edge-of-the-seat encounter. India again showed why their batsman are the ones to watch out for. Ths time it was Sachin Tendulkar who led the batting with a strokeful 120 runs, ably supported by Gambhir and Yuvraj, both reaching 50's and taking India to a challenging target of 338. It was a case of deja-vu again as the Indian bowling was shoddy and hapless and opener and England skipper Andrew Strauss took full advantage of the frailty of the Indian attack and played an exceptional knock of 158. With a lot of help from the tail, England managed to pull off an exciting tie. Both teams shared points, but the English were the happier lot. Again the Indian bowling left a lot to be desired.
Touted as the favourites, the Indian team's road to the the Quarter-finals has been a bumpy one. Here is a look back at their journey to the last 8.
The 'grudge match' between India and Bangladesh proved to be a good outing for the Indian batting line-up. AFter the minnows knocked the Men in Blue out of the 2007 edition, the Indians produced a powerhouse of a performance with the bat. Led by Virender Sehwag's whirlwind knock of 175, well supported by a century by rising star Virat Kohli, the titans piled on the runs and the agony for the co-hosts and set a target of 370 runs. The bowling did not complement the batting to say the least. Bangladesh too tried their level best to reach the target but eventually ran out of overs and ended up with a respectable 283. Match won by India but the flaws were clear and present.