India’s bowling falls woefully short after a struggle by its batsmen
Remember Adam Gilchrist and Mathew Hayden’s brutal assault against the Indian attack at Johannesburg during the 2003 World Cup final?
A similar but even more bruising tale unfolded under the Colombo skies on a Friday night at the R. Premadasa Stadium with Shane Watson and David Warner running riot.
Their shots brooked no resistance be it from fielders or gravity and the openers’ pulse-pounding 133-run partnership propelled Australia to a nine-wicket victory over India in an ICC World Twenty20 Super Eights Group II match.
Chasing India’s 140 for seven in 20 overs, Australia blazed away to 141 for one in 14.1 overs.
India stepped into the game with five bowlers and M.S. Dhoni, perhaps enthused by the spin-dominance in the earlier match between Pakistan and South Africa, retained Piyush Chawla. But the expected ambush remained a failed fantasy.
‘Man of the Match’ Watson (72, 42b, 2x4, 7x6) dismantled R. Ashwin and Warner (63 n.o., 41b, 7x4, 3x6) caned Zaheer Khan and with the Power Play gifting 47 runs, the Indian fielders kept staring at a white ball constantly flying into the night sky.
Ashwin strayed in his line and when Zaheer offered marginal width, the Australian duo’s bats were greased lightning.
No bowler was spared and every fresh spell was dented with sixes, be it Harbhajan Singh, Piyush, Irfan Pathan, Virat Kohli or Yuvraj Singh.
If ever there was a fair distribution of destruction on a cricket pitch, this was it and the Indians were resigned to a forlorn night.
Watson eventually fell to Yuvraj but his 81-ball alliance with Warner had put the game far beyond India’s grasp.
Earlier, India’s quest for a sizeable score was squandered through a regular fall of wickets.
As expected, Virender Sehwag was dropped and Irfan accompanied Gautam Gambhir to the crease.
Gambhir picked a four each off Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins but got run-out and after that India’s search for a critical partnership remained a futile one.
Irfan struck a six off Watson and Kohli drilled two deft fours but the firm tread and the quick-silver runs, still remained a dream.
Kohli holed out in the deep after failing to get on top of a Cummins delivery, Yuvraj fell on the pull and within the next six deliveries, India lost two more. Irfan perished to Watson and Rohit Sharma failed to counter Starc.
Dhoni and Suresh Raina then added 30 industrious runs for the sixth wicket before the Indian captain flung his bat at a wide delivery.
Raina and Ashwin lent some belated but sporadic energy to the last few overs, as Starc and Watson briefly suffered.
Those runs proved too meagre once the Australian openers launched their pulverising attack.
India: G. Gambhir (run out) 17 (12b, 3x4), Irfan c White b Watson 31 (30b, 2x4, 1x6), V. Kohli c Christian b Cummins 15 (13b, 2x4), Yuvraj c Maxwell b Watson 8 (10b, 1x4), Rohit b Starc 1 (2b), S. Raina c Maxwell b Watson 26 (19b, 4x4), M.S. Dhoni c Bailey b Cummins 15 (21b, 2x4), R. Ashwin (not out) 16 (12b, 1x4, 1x6), Harbhajan (not out) 1 (1b); Extras (b-2, lb-2, w-6): 10; Total (for seven wkts. in 20 overs): 140.
Fall of wickets: 1-26 (Gambhir), 2-56 (Kohli), 3-70 (Yuvraj), 4-74 (Irfan), 5-74 (Rohit), 6-104 (Dhoni), 7-137 (Raina).
Australia bowling: Maxwell 2-0-11-0, Starc 4-0-27-1, Cummins 4-0-16-2, Watson 4-0-34-3, Christian 2-0-19-0, Hogg 4-0-29-0.
Australia: S. Watson c (sub) Tiwary b Yuvraj 72 (42b, 2x4, 7x6), D. Warner (not out) 63 (41b, 7x4, 3x6), G. Maxwell (not out) 4 (6b); Extras (w-2): 2; Total (for one wkt. in 14.5 overs): 141.
Fall of wicket: 1-133 (Watson).
India bowling: Ashwin 3.5-0-32-0, Zaheer 3-0-18-0, Harbhajan 2-0-20-0, Piyush 1-0-14-0, Irfan 1-0-19-0, Kohli 1-0-10-0, Yuvraj 2-0-16-1, Rohit 1-0-12-0.
Man-of-the-match: Shane Watson