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Aussies Sledge, Play Mind Games and ‘We Give The World Cup Back’

world cup trophyNew Delhi, Friday, March 27 – India vs. Australia semi-final in Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, shattered Indian hopes all of a sudden for the reason that the host inflicted a 95-run defeat on the Men in Blue.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led team India lost the toss and had to field first. Australian skipper Michael Clarke’s decision to bat against India in session first turned absolutely correct as his boys did their best. Winning the toss was crucial in the 2nd semi-final of World Cup and fate seemed to take side of the rivals. Regardless of getting a quick breakthrough in the early overs when Umesh Yadav shocked the destructive hitter David Warner through a wonderful delivery, which made the opener go back to the pavilion, India lost the ground as the match progressed.

Other bowlers failed to take the same momentum further. The opener Aaron Finch and Steven Smith felt the ease to play bowling by Indian bowlers who surprised the entire cricket fraternity by taking 7 wickets in 7 matches played during knockout and league stages. Smith made use of his good form in opposition to India a day ago as well and struck a brilliant ton. His 105-run innings of 93 balls comprised 11 fours and a couple of sixes. Finch, on the other hand, too exhibited a mesmerizing game and scored 81 runs in 116 balls. Even though he fell 19 runs short to get a ton, he built the pressure on Indian cricketers by sending the ball into the fences seven times, hitting a biggie and taking quick single whenever needed.  They both succumbed to Umesh Yadav.

The new batsman on the crease was Glenn Maxwell, who looked dangerous with his batting as he started to hit the ball hard the moment he arrived. Before Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed him, the right-handed cricketer struck three 4s and a six in his knock of 23 runs scored in just 14 balls. This could have been a turning point of the match had India believed of bouncing back. Perhaps the casual approach cost them a match, which was their ticket to grand finale and a chance to bring the World Cup back. Though Michael Clarke’s poor form compelled him accumulate only 10 runs, things kept on getting away from the hands of defending champions slowly.

James Faulkner took viewers by surprise in slog overs and pocketed 21 runs in 12 balls, striking some classy 4s and a big shot. He fumbled on Yadav’s delivery, which hit the stumps beautifully. Shane Watson and wicket-keeper batsman Brad Haddin added 28 and 7 runs, respectively, in the teams total. Watson’s wicket in 48 over made India heave a sigh of relief, however, bowling attack missed the edge. This made Mitchell Johnson settle for a while and change equations of the match to a great extent. His unbeaten knock of 27 runs in 9 balls (4 x 4 and 6 x 1) lent a hand to Australia to put 328 runs on the scoreboard.

Right from the beginning, it was clear that chasing the target is not going to be a cake walk for Indian camp. Despite the fact that the opening duo Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan gave India a good start, letting the opponents know they will not succumb to a big total and unwanted stress, the squad was unsuccessful to utilize the lead. The entire story changed when Dhawan once again threw his wicket to Josh Hazlewood. Maxwell took a good catch in the deep. The 76-run partnership came to an end. Dhawan scored 45 runs (4 x 6 and 6 x 1). He was in good form and had the potential to take India very close to the humongous total. However, selection of a wrong shot was the first shock for India.

Viewers still cheered when the vice-captain Virat Kohli came to hold the fort as his rivalry with Mitchell Johnson on the field could have helped the Men in Blue cruise to next round. But vice-versa happened when a ball by Johnson did not get the required strength and sit perfectly on the bat. Haddin made no mistake taking the catch. Sharma was out by the Johnson post contributing 34 runs in the score.

If truth be told, this was the point where mentally Indian knew it is going to be almost impossible to make 329 runs or tie the game to enter finale, slated to take place on March 29. The semi-final caught the eyes as supporters wanted their teams log victory at the end of the day and turn their dream of winning the title. Indian hopes sank with each departure. Ajinkya Rahane (44 runs of 68 balls; 4 x 2) and Suresh Raina (7 runs of 11 balls; 4 x 1) were anticipated to build a good partnership but dismissal of the latter by Faulkner was perhaps the final nail in the coffin. The pressure of saving wickets was so much that it forced rest of the batsman to play safe.

On a fantastic delivery by Mitchell Starc, Rahane had to go away. Ravindra Jadeja did not succeed to exploit the opportunity throughout the entire tournament and turned a run out victim when Smith hit the stumps before the batsman was in. Captain cool Dhoni tried to bring things on the track and hit 3 fours and two massive sixes in his 65 run innings. The sluggishness in taking a run made him depart. Maxwell’s brilliant fielding got a direct hit on the stumps, giving the Aussies a chance to smell victory.

Everything was over for India at this point. Ravichandran Ashwin was dismissed at 5, while both Mohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav were out for a duck. Mohammed Shami was not out at 1. In 46.5 over, India were able to just score 233 runs. Australians took revenge from India and let go the bad memories of 2011 World Cup quarter-finals where they lost against the same team. Now, they will meet New Zealand in the mega face-off on Sunday.

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