Barbados: Had it not been for Rohit Sharma, India would have faced a more humiliating defeat! Sharma’s scintillating innings of 79 not out went in vain as Australia beat India by a major margin of 49 runs in their Super Eight encounter of the T20 World Cup here on Friday.
It could have been a much more shameful defeat for India as they were placed at 50/7 at one point of time with a formidable target of 185 runs ahead of them.
However, it was Sharma’s sheer determination that kept him going till the end.
The Indian top and middle order fell like a pack of cards as none of the batsmen, apart from Sharma and Harbhajan Singh (13), could post a double figure score on the board.
India’s chase of 185 runs started on a very devastating note as they lost both their openers, Murali Vijay (2) and Gautam Gambhir (9), in the third over itself, thus reducing the team’s score to 12/2.
The two early wickets led to all hopes being lied upon Suresh Raina too failed to do any good as an over later, he too was dismissed for a mere 5 runs.
Situation worsened in the very next over as Yuvraj Singh departed for just a run, further shrinking the score to 23/4. A few overs later, Dhoni (2) and Yusuf Pathan (1) too lost their wickets.
Later, Ravinder Jadeja (4) gave away his wicket in a silly run-out dismissal.
And in midst of all this, it was Sharma who continued to wage a lonely battle. He, almost single-handedly, lifted his team’s score from 50/7 to 97/8, a point where it was time for Bhajji to lose his wicket.
Zaheer (9), thereafter, kept Sharma some company and took score to 133/9. Finally, it was Nehra’s dismissal that ended India’s innings at 135 all out.
Sharma’s unbeaten 79 included four fantastic boundaries and six stupendous sixes.
Earlier, a dazzling performance by the top order, especially the opening duo of Shane Watson and David Warner, helped Australia post a gritty 184/5 against India in their Super Eight encounter of the ICC World T20 here on Friday.
There were fireworks all around as Watson and Warner claimed their half-centuries with the help of some sparkling boundaries.
After winning the toss early in the morning, Indian skipper MS Dhoni asked the Australians to set them a target.
Little did he know that his decision would prove so fatal. Watson and Warner got straight down to business. There was no beating round the bush as the W-duo took turns to hit some scintillating sixes and brilliant boundaries to take their team past the 100-run mark in the 11th over, having already claimed their respective half-centuries by then.
However, it was Yusuf Pathan who gave some breathing space to India as he broke the humungous 104-run partnership between Watson and Warner by dismissing the former in the 11th over.
Pathan ripped of the middle and off stumps to dismiss the danger-man Watson for a well-carved 54 runs, which comprised of six sixes and a four.
Watson’s dismissal did slow down Australia’s run-rate even a bit as now it were Warner and David Hussey who jumped in to action and continued to create havoc. By the 14th over, the score had risen from 104 to 142 and it was then when the Aussies lost their second wicket, Warner, thanks to Yuvraj Singh who got him caught by Dhoni.
Warner’s stupendous contribution of 72 runs, which came with the help of seven sixes and two boundaries, took Australia to a very comfortable position after which the remaining batsmen were not left with much work to do.
Still, Hussey added a decent 35 with the help of three fours and two uber-cool sixes.
Later Brad Haddin (8), Cameron White (5*) and Michael Hussey (8) did their bit to concluded the Australian innings at 184/5.
Australia: David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke(c), David Hussey, Cameron White, Brad Haddin(w), Michael Hussey, Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Dirk Nannes, Shaun Tait
India: Gautam Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni(w/c), Yusuf Pathan, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra