Australia drub listless Indians

Watson, Warner sparkle as Baileys men score convincing nine-wicket victory

Australia drub listless Indians

India’s Super Eight jinx continued unabated as Australia handed them a comprehensive nine-wicket defeat in a Group 2 encounter here at the R Premadasa Stadium on Friday night.

On a day when India left out Virender Sehwag to bolster their bowling unit, the former champions were left to wonder if they should revisit their strategy. After struggling their way to 140/7 on a surface where Pakistan had struggled to scale down South Africa’s 133/6 in an earlier match, Indians could just watch helplessly as openers Shane Watson (72, 42b, 2x4, 7x6) and David Warner (63 not out, 41b, 7x4, 3x6) hammered the bowlers out of sight to power Australia home in just 14.5 overs.

Man of the match Watson continued his dream run to go with his other similar efforts against Ireland and the West Indies in the first phase. His 133-run association off just 81 balls with Warner all but sealed the contest in favour of Australia who meet South Africa in their Sunday’s clash.

While India’s show with the bat, especially after the kind of start they got, left a lot to be desired. Indian bowlers were a pale shadow of the efficient unit that demolished English batsmen at the same venue a few days back. Zaheer Khan was expectedly back in the mix, but the performance of spinners in the first match of the day may have influenced MS Dhoni to go in with three spinners -- R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla, at the expense of Lakshmipathi Balaji.

Barring Zaheer, who should have had the wicket of Warner on 21 when umpire Richard Kettleborough ruled him not out off an LBW shout, none of the Indian bowlers could make any impact on the Australian batsmen. They spared the Indian fielders of hard work, taking the turf out of equation while sending the ball high and long into the stands.

It was as if the two sides were batting on different surfaces in the same match.

Till about one-third of India’s innings there were hardly any indications of a sudden slide.

Gautam Gambhir and Irfan Pathan, the top-scorer for India, had given a good start which Virat Kohli was nicely strengthening. A 50/1 at the end of six-over Power Play was as good a start as they would have hoped for, but Kohli’s dismissal at this stage set cat among pigeons. 

Undone by the pace and bounce of Pat Cummins, who had spoken of chin music before the match, the in-from right-hander miscued his pull  to be caught behind the bowler. Yuvraj Singh, too, failed to pass the test of short ball, hitting Watson’s much slower delivery straight to mid-wicket fielder.

Rohit Sharma has had some good innings coming into this match and the Mumbai batsman was expected to steer the struggling Indian ship to safety. A beauty of a delivery from Mitchell Starc cleaned him up; the ball angling into the right-hander quite similar to the mode of his dismissals during the recent series against Sri Lanka.

It was left then to Dhoni and Raina to not just consolidate but accelerate as well what with very few overs left in the innings. Interspersing some lusty hits with their good running between the wickets, the duo managed to move an almost stagnant score board and with R Ashwin manufacturing a few strokes, including an impressive pull off Starc, India could provide their total a semblance of respectability, but just that.

The defeat, their seventh straight in the Super Eights, has left India with a huge task of winning both their remaining matches – against Pakistan on Sunday and South Africa on Tuesday – to qualify for the semifinals.

Score Board

INDIA

Gambhir (run out)    17
(12b, 3x4)
Irfan c White b Watson    31
(31b, 3x4, 1x6)
Kohli c Christian b Cummins    15
(13b, 2x4)
Yuvraj c Maxwell b Watson    8
(9b, 1x4)
Rohit b Starc    1
(2b)
Raina c Maxwell b Watson    26
(19b, 4x4)
Dhoni c Bailey b Cummins    15
(21b, 2x4)
Ashwin (not out)    16
(12b, 1x4, 1x6)
Harbhajan (not out)    1
(1b)
Extras (B-2, LB-2, W-6)    10
Total (for 7 wkts, 20 overs)    140
Fall of wickets: 1-21 (Gambhir), 2-56 (Kohli), 3-70 (Yuvraj), 4-74 (Irfan), 5-74 (Rohit), 6-104 (Dhoni), 7-137 (Raina).
Bowling: Maxwell 2-0-11-0, Starc 4-0-27-1, Cummins 4-0-16-2, Watson 4-034-3, Christian 2-0-19-0, Hogg 4-0-29-0 (w-6). Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 50/1.

AUSTRALIA

Watson c sub b Yuvraj    72
(42b, 2x4, 7x6)
Warner (not out)    63
(41b, 7x4, 3x6)
Maxwell (not out)    4
(6b)
Extras (W-2)    2
Total (for 1 wkt, 14.5 overs)    141
Fall of wicket: 1-133 (Watson).
Bowling: R Ashwin 3.5-0-32-0 (w-1), Zaheer Khan 3-0-18-0 (w-1), Harbhajan Singh 2-0-20-0, Piyush Chawla 1-0-14-0, Irfan 1-0-19-0, Kohli 1-0-10-0, Yuvraj 2-0-16-1, Rohit 1-0-12-0.
Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 47/0.

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