India succumb to Australian might

David Warner, Shane Watson hit blazing fifties as men in blue slide to 49-run defeat; Rohits 79 in vain

India succumb to Australian might

He had won the toss and after electing to bowl, saw his trump card Harbhajan Singh send down a maiden over. India’s moment under the sun had come and gone like a flashflood as Australia humbled them by 49 runs in the Super Eights opener here at the Kensington Oval on Saturday.

It was billed as the clash of favourites but at the end of the contest Australia showed who the boss is. A meek bowling, with a specialist bowler less, had allowed Australian batsmen stack up an imposing 184 for five as Shane Watson (54, 32b, 1x4, 6x6) and David Warner (72, 41b, 2x4, 7x6) brought up 104 runs for the opening wicket in just under 11 overs to set the base for a big score.

But an even meeker batting saw them stumble to 135 all out in 17.4 overs. Pacemen Dirk Nannes and Shaun Tait troubled the Indian top-order consistently bowling at around 145 kmph. They were fast, accurate and hence difficult to score off. Only Rohit Sharma (79, 46b, 4x4, 6x6), playing his first match of the tournament, stood the Australian pace test while the rest found it too hot to handle. Unruffled and uninhibited the 23-year-old was a refreshing change from the other batsmen who looked ill at ease. In face of the stiff challenge, however, the right-hander could do only so much. 
 In comparison, India’s performance was a total contrast. Harbhajan remained parsimonious through his spell, but the rest simply didn’t measure up to the task. The off-spinner conceded just 15 runs off his four overs while the remaining 16 overs went for a whopping 169, this despite managing a mere 23 runs in the last four overs. Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra finally seemed to have hit their straps but it was too late in the day. Given the Aussie attack the total was always going to be a steep cliff to climb and India’s chase, despite an extra batsman, was over in the first five overs during which they lost four wickets. Looking at India’s batting might, one would have expected them to make a fist of it but their reply was spineless to say the least.

 Ravindra Jadeja, who will want forget this day in a hurry, was hit for six consecutive sixes spread over two overs -- three each from Watson and Warner. That he was the one who had dropped Watson when the batsman was only on seven, is sure to rankle Jadeja for a long time to come. Watson cleared the ropes thrice off the last three balls of the left-arm spinner’s first over and when he came back to bowl his second over Warner gave him the same treatment, striking him for three sixes off the first three balls.
 Seldom has six-hitting been made to look so easy. The right-left combination hit 12 sixes between them as, barring Harbhajan, every other bowler came under the cosh. After going runless for seven balls, Watson exploded pulling Ashish Nehra over long-on for his first of the half-dozen sixes. After Watson’s dismissal, Warner took charge of the situation and kept scoring at will.

Unrelnting, the stocky left-hander hit Yusuf Pathan and Yuvraj Singh for three sixes in the next three overs before edging one that bounced extra to Dhoni. David Hussey, meanwhile, hit two sixes and Australia looked good for a total in excess of 200. Yuvraj, Zaheer and Nehra tied down White and Haddin towards the end to restrict them to below 200, but the total was beyond their reach.
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