It's West Indies next for India

It's West Indies next for India

Kohli's classic unbeaten 82 helps hosts overcome Australia's challenge in final league tie

It's West Indies next for India

 India’s chase master was at it again. Australia held most of the aces until the 17th over of India’s chase but Virat Kohli, like only he does, turned the game on its head in the over as he took James Faulkner (who else?) apart.

In pursuit of Australia’s 160 for six, India needed 39 from the last three overs and either one Kohli (82 n.o., 51b, 9x4, 2x6) or MS Dhoni had to come up with something special in the 18th over before things spiralled out of control. Kohli put his hand up and took control of the situation. He pulled the first ball from Faulkner to mid-wicket fence and followed it up by squeezing a fuller one to backward point for another four. The right-hander deposited the third ball over long-off for six to set the pulse racing. Faulkner, who had given away just 12 runs in his first two, leaked 19 as India came within touching distance of their target.

With equation now reduced to 20 off last two, Nathan Coulter-Nile, who too had been impressive till that point, bore the brunt of Kohli who punished the paceman for four fours in five balls as the capacity stadium went into delirium. Dhoni, as it has become a norm, finished the job with a four to seal India’s place in the World T20 semifinals here at the PCA stadium on Sunday. India replied with 161 for four with five balls to spare.

India, who finished second behind New Zealand in Group 2, will take on Group 1 topper West Indies in a last four match on March 31 in Mumbai. The first semi will be between New Zealand and England in Delhi on March 30.

The hallmark of Kohli and Dhoni’s partnership, which was worth 67 off 31 balls, was their frenetic running between the wickets that left Australia frustrated. In contrast, the association between Kohli and Yuvraj moved at a sluggish pace as the latter couldn’t push himself because of cramps in his left leg.

Earlier, India looked in danger of being buried under an avalanche of runs before the their bowlers pulled things back to keep Australia in check. Opting to bat first, Australia limped their way to 160, a total that would have thoroughly disappointed the visitors. The Aussies had blasted their way to fifty in less than four overs but some smart bowling and a vastly improved fielding helped India prevent the visitors from running away with the game.

Usman Khawaja (26, 16b, 6x4) began by pulling Ashish Nehra for a four off the first ball of the innings and in the next over the southpaw gave Jasprit Bumrah some special treatment, clobbering the right-arm paceman for four fours. Aaron Finch (43, 34b, 3x4, 2x6) then got stuck into R Ashwin, slamming the off-spinner for two successive sixes over long-on. With his line disturbed, Ashwin bowled a wide which went for four. By the time he was done with his first over, Ashwin had conceded 22 runs.

Australia brought up their 50 runs in mere 22 balls but he hosts turned things around in spectacular fashion with some quick scalps. Nehra induced a thick edge behind the wickets to put an end to Khawaja’s blazing stint.

Ashwin continued to leak runs but redeemed himself to an extent by dragging David Warner out and beating him with a classical off-spinner’s delivery. The left-hander had gone so far down the wicket, Dhoni had all the time in the world to stump him. For the first time in this tournament, Dhoni threw the ball to Yuvraj and the home boy sent the crowd into a tizzy when Smith feathered his first ball behind.

From 54 for no loss in 4.2 overs to 74 for three by 9.1 overs, Australia’s stock plunged drastically. Where they took just 3.4 overs to bring up their first fifty, they consumed a further 56 balls to complete 100. Though they managed to gather 56 from the last six, the total didn’t prove enough. No praise can be too high for the way the India fought back and ensured their batsmen wouldn’t be chasing something beyond their grasp.

score board

Khawaja c Dhoni b Nehra    26
(16b, 6x4)
Finch c Dhawan b Pandya    43
(34b, 3x4, 2x6)
Warner st Dhoni b Ashwin    6
Smith c Dhoni b Yuvraj    2
Maxwell b Bumrah    31
(28b, 1x4, 1x6)
Watson (not out)    18
(16b, 2x4)
Faulkner c Kohli b Pandya    10
(10b, 1x4)
Nevill (not out)    10
(2b, 1x4, 1x6)
Extras (LB-2, W-11, NB-1)    14
Total (for 6 wkts, 20 overs)    160
Fall of wickets: 1-54 (Khawaja), 2-72 (Warner), 3-74 (Smith), 4-100 (Finch), 5-130 (Maxwell), 6-145 (Faulkner).
Bowling: Nehra 4-0-20-1, Bumrah 4-0-32-1, Ashwin 2-0-31-1 (w-7), Jadeja 3-0-20-0 (w-1), Yuvraj 3-0-19-1 (nb-1, w-2), Pandya 4-0-36-2 (w-1).
Rohit b Watson    12
(17b, 1x4)
Dhawan c Khawaja b Coulter-Nile    13
(12b, 1x4, 1x6)
Kohli (not out)    82
(51b, 9x4, 2x6)
Raina c Nevill b Watson    10
(7b, 1x4)
Yuvraj c Watson b Faulkner    21
(18b, 1x4, 1x6)
Dhoni (not out)    18
(10b, 3x4)
Extras (LB-3, W-2)    5
Total (for 4 wkts, 19.1 overs)    161
Fall of wickets: 1-23 (Shikhar Dhawan), 2-37 (Rohit), 3-49 (Raina), 4-94 (Yuvraj).
Bowling: Hazlewood 4-0-38-0 (w-1), Coulter-Nile 4-0-33-1 (w-1), Watson 4-0-23-2, Faulkner 3.1-0-35-1, Max­well 2-0-18-0, Zampa 2-0-11-0.

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