An epic 11-match unbeaten run in the ICC Cricket World Cup came to a sad end for Team India, after being beaten comprehensively by 95 runs by Australia at Sydney in the 2nd semi final. Steven Smith led the way for the Aussies with a brilliant century that saw his team post a mammoth 328/7, batting first. In reply, the Indians were bowled out for just 233 in 46.5 overs.
Australia bat first, Steven Smith takes charge of the innings
The home team was jolted early in the innings, with the loss of David Warner in the 4th over. Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami began well for India, and it was Umesh’s express pace that was responsible for the early wicket. However, the Australian innings underwent a gradual transformation as Steven Smith familiarised himself with the Sydney track, batting at No. 3. In spite of tight and disciplined bowling by the Indians, Smith encountered no problems in constructing a match winning innings, at a run-a-ball pace. Aaron Finch, at the other end, took his time but played second fiddle to Steven Smith very well. A mammoth 182 run stand between Smith and Finch was enough to put Australia in cruise control of the match by the 35th over. The scoreboard looked scary for the Indians when Smith was dismissed by Yadav- 197/2 in 34.1 overs.
Indian bowlers strike back, but Australia find late surge
Glenn Maxwell’s brief stay at the crease yielded 23 off 14 balls, before he was lured into a well set trap by Ravichandran Ashwin. And Maxwell’s wicket somehow gave way to a mini collapse for the Aussies, just around the 40 over mark. Finch, Maxwell and Clarke were all dismissed within a space of 4 overs, and Australia appeared to have lost the initiative in that period, as the scoreboard read 248/5 after the captain’s dismissal in the 43rd over. The Indian bowlers, however, were unable to hold on to this advantage and let Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner score quickfire cameos to propel Australia to a massive total. While Faulkner hit 21 off 12, Johnson came out all guns blazing in the last 3 overs, scoring 27 off just 9 balls!
India begin well, but fail to build on good start
329 was never out of sight for an Indian team that is well known for chasing down big targets in ODIs. And with Sydney having hosted a high scoring game between Australia and Sri Lanka in this tournament itself, the world expected the match to go down to the wire. The Australian bowlers, however, were in no mood to let the Indians seize the early initiative in this all important chase. Mitchell Starc regularly clocked 150, and Josh Hazlewood troubled both openers – Dhawan and Rohit – just outside the off stump. But the Indian openers negotiated this period of mental attrition brilliantly, and put on a 76 run stand in just 13 overs. Hopes of India chasing the total down were indeed high, even after Dhawan was dismissed while attempting an inside-out shot over extra cover off Josh Hazlewood’s bowling. Virat Kohli, on whom an entire nation had pinned hopes of producing a magical innings, failed to meet the expectations. After an agonizing 13 ball stay at the crease, Kohli could only manage a solitary run before being bounced out by Mitchell Johnson!
Indian middle order caves in, Dhoni’s resistance not enough
The middle order, after having performed well above its potential throughout this World Cup, failed to replicate the heroics today. Suresh Raina could not withstand the Aussie aggression any more than 11 balls, and was dismissed for just 7, by Faulkner in the 23rd over. A 72 run stand between Ajinkya Rahane and MS Dhoni did keep India in the chase for some time, but it was far too slow to keep India’s hopes of an outright win alive. Rahane laboured his way to a 68 ball 44, before being adjudged caught behind off Starc in the 37th over. Ravindra Jadeja could never get a grip on the requirements of the game, and could only score 16 off 17 balls, before Steven Smith’s brilliant direct hit did him in. MS Dhoni kept fighting till the 45th over, and came up with a knock of 65 off 65 balls. The tail could do nothing more than add to the wickets tally of the Australian bowlers. India folded for 233, handing the Aussies the elusive ticket to the final against New Zealand, at Melbourne on Sunday.
Man of the Match – Steven Smith
Brief Scores – Australia (328/7 in 50 overs, Steven Smith 105, Umesh Yadav 4/68) beat India (233 in 46.5 overs, MS Dhoni 65, Faulkner 3/59) by 95 runs.