Adelaide:India had their back to the wall against Sri Lanka, when Yuvraj Singh must have thought "not today" to himself. He smeared himself with war paint, put on his fatigues and walked out wielding his bat like an assault rifle. His combative, unabated 76, was enough in the end to take India home at the Adelaide Oval.
Yuvraj's innings came after several failures on this tour and would be a relief to India. It was matched, if not bettered, by Kumar Sangakkara's 128 crisp runs and MS Dhoni's never-say-die 50 not out, that was enough to chase down Sri Lanka's 238.
India had trouble getting off the blocks, much like Sri Lanka who were then rescued by a stylish 153-run partnership between Mahela Jayawardene (71) and Sangakkara.
When India batted, Lasith Malinga produced that perfect ball, that pitched off, hit off and left Sachin Tendulkar bamboozled, and his batting average smaller. Tendulkar made a duck, as did Sanath Jayasuriya earlier.
Soon back in the shade were Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa. It left Yuvraj to begin his search for elusive runs and he began solidly, picking gaps on the short leg side boundary to jumpstart his innings.
With Rohit Sharma not doing badly himself, the duo steadied the ship with 64 runs. The running was good and was enough to revive India's chances in the game.
Yuvraj's innings was cut short only by Chaminda Vaas's sharp Yorker. But with Dhoni scampering his ones and twos like there was no tomorrow, the win never looked far.
Even as Lanka coming back with late wickets, a determined Dhoni was hard to get around. There's been much criticism of him for various reasons, but on Tuesday, he led by example. In the end, like many times before, Dhoni hit the winning runs, and India won when Yuvraj hit a fifty.
Three run-outs and a big hundred
Sri Lanka recovered well after three run-outs in the innings. Sangakkara and Jayawardene added 153 in a little over 35 overs before Jayawardene was run out in the same manner as Jayasuriya -- with the bowler deflecting the ball on to the stumps at the bowler's end.
The other batsman to be run out was Chamara Kapugedera, beaten by Rohit's direct hit from cover.
In the morning, it was Munaf Patel, who put India in business in the first over of this crucial game. He got Tillekaratne Dilshan to drive on the up and edge to Dhoni off the fourth ball, and then got Jayasuriya run out.
Steady and disciplined
Both sides must be credited with a steady performance in the first half. Sri Lanka, having lost their openers for four runs between then, didn't panic. Jayawardene and Sangakkara were assured in their run-gathering as they built up momentum one over at a time.
India, having got themselves into a position where they could get pummeled in the slog overs, kept their cool. Dhoni switched the bowlers around well and attacked wherever necessary.
There's an outside chance of Australia - given all their batting problems - may not reach the finals.
It's an improbability. For it to happen, India and Sri Lanka will have to beat Australia in their remaining three games.
More realistically, Lanka have to win at least two of their next three games to better India's point aggregate.