Thursday, March 26, 2015

Smith Ton Flattens India, Sets Up Final Clash With The Black Caps

Semi Final 2: Australia vs India at SCG, Sydney on 26th March - Match Review

Australia beat India by 95 Runs

A sea of blue greeted both the teams as they arrived at the famous Sydney Cricket Ground for this important Semi Final clash and the right to play New Zealand at the MCG on the 29th March 2015 in the Final match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Australia won the toss and decided that they will bat first, the pitch looked like a belter and it was the same pitch on which Sri Lanka had nearly chased down Australia’s 370 odd just 2 weeks ago. Both the teams were unchanged for this fight.

Warner hit a six off Umesh Yadav but then lobbed a simple catch off the leading edge to Virat Kohli stationed at mid off. Mohammad Shami was getting the new ball to swing and he was all over Aaron Finch in his opening spell. Steven Smith, the man who had tormented India right through their recently concluded test series just started off from where he had left. He started in grand fashion and was middling the ball right from the word go. Umesh Yadav was hit straight down the ground for a 4 and was then pulled disdainfully three times in the same over, that over cost him 16 runs.

Finch meanwhile continued to struggle at the other end but he fought on. Australia brought their 100 in the 19th over and Smith completed his 50 off just 53 balls. Finch also eventually got to his half century but took 82 balls. Australia opted for the powerplay in the 33rd over as they looked to up the tempo of their innings and with wickets in hand they were headed towards a massive score.

Smith and Finch both attacked the Indian bowlers in the powerplay and Smith completed a well deserved century off just 89 balls. But he could not carry on to a bigger score as he pulled a ball from Yadav straight to Rohit in the deep. Maxwell came in and smashed 23 runs in no time when the introduction of R Ashwin got him a bit too greedy and he was out for 23 off 14 balls. Finch departed in the next over as he tried to pull Yadav but got the toe end of his bat, the ball lobbing to Shikhar Dhawan at short mid widwicket. He made a laborious 81 off 116 balls.

Steve Smith was all over India with the bat and in the field in their Semi Final Clash at the SCG!

At this point of time, India were just starting to claw their way back in to the game as a flurry of wickets had slowed the Aussie charge. The wicket of Michael Clarke further boosted the Indian confidence but first Faulkner who made a vital 21 off just 12 balls and then Watson who steadied the wobble a bit with a 30 ball 28 dented India’s charge. Mitchell Johnson then smashed a game changing 27 off just 9 balls right at the end as Australia posted an imposing score of 328 in their 50 overs.

India needed to bat with caution early on in a bid to preserve wickets for a late assault and that is exactly what they did. Rohit was caught by Watson off Starc in the first over but was reprieved as the replays were inconclusive if the ball had carried to him or not. Haddin then clanged a catch off Dhawan off Hazlewood and everyone felt that maybe it would be an Indian night after all. Dhawan started charging the bowlers and took on Faulkner who was smashed for 30 runs in his first two overs. At the other end Rohit hooked Johnson in the crowd for a six and the crowd roared. India were going along nicely when Dhawan had a brain freeze and he sliced a wide ball straight to Maxwell off Hazlewood.

The whole complexion of the game changed with that one error. Australia were right on top and the bowlers started charging in again. Virat made a solitary run before top edging a pull off Johnson; he took 13 balls to score that one run. Rohit pulled Johnson for another six but was bowled the very next ball as the ball just swung in a bit leaving India at 91 for 3 after 18 overs. Raina was the next in the firing line and he copped a few from Starc before edging one off Faulkner to Haddin. Dhoni and Rahane tried to forge a partnership but just when they were starting to get going in the powerplay, Rahane fell tickling a faint edge to Haddin off Starc which was originally given not out by the umpire but was reversed after Smith convinced Clarke that he had heard something!!

Dhoni dawdled around to complete an utterly meaningless half century but the script had been written and the film had been over long before he was eventually out. The Indian tail did not offer any resistance and India were bowled out for 233 as they whimpered to a loss against Australia one final time this Australian summer.

So, after 48 games and nearly 6 weeks; we now have the two Finalists of the World Cup. It will be the two co-hosts who will collide for the prestigious title once again just like India and Sri Lanka had in 2011. Australia and New Zealand have already given us a thriller earlier in the tournament, can they give us one more at the MCG?

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

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