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Australia openers blow away India

Watson and Warner steer their team to victory with 31 balls to spare

Image Credit: Reuters
Australia's Shane Watson hits a six watched by India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli (right) during the ICC World Twenty20 Super 8 cricket match at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo September 28, 2012.

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Colombo: Australia exposed the chinks in the Indian bowling attack through their aggressive openers David Warner and Shane Watson to record an emphatic nine-wicket victory in the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 Super Eight match at the Premadasa Stadium on Friday.

Restricting India to 140 for 7, Australia’s most-feared openers put on 133 runs in just 13.3 overs, hitting boundaries and sixes with stunning regularity. Shane Watson, who bowled brilliantly to bag three wickets, also cracked 72 runs off just 42 balls with two fours and seven sixes to prove that he is undoubtedly the world’s best all-rounder today. The ease with which he hit sixes even forced the India supporters to applaud him as he walked away with his third consecutive man-of-the-match award.

It was just reward for his excellence in helping Australia to win the match with 31 balls to spare. Meanwhile, Warner remained unbeaten on 63 off 41 balls with seven fours and three sixes. Towards the end of the match, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who played five bowlers, was left searching for a bowler whose deliveries the openers would not thrash mercilessly.

India had bravely dropped their star opener Virender Sehwag, who bats like the Australian openers, due to poor form.  Irfan Pathan once again opened with Gautam Gambhir as he had done against England.  This provoked a debate as to how could Pathan, who was not considered as batsman worthy enough to bat ahead of Ravichandran Ashwin, be installed as opener ahead of the classy Sehwag.

However, the first to go wasn’t Pathan as Gambhir got run out for 17 while attempting a quick single. Pat Cummins kicked the ball towards the stumps, which dislodged the bail before Gambhir could slide his bat in. Australia, who lost the toss, earned yet another success when they dismissed in-form batsman Virat Kohli for 15. Cummins shocked Kohli with his pace and bounce and Kohli, going for a pull, ended up skying the ball towards mid-off. There, Dan Christian, running to his right, took the catch.

In the 11th over, Yuvraj Singh also fell to a Shane Watson bouncer. He top-edged to Glen Maxwell at deep mid-wicket for 8. More disaster was to follow for India.  In the last ball of the same over, Pathan was dismissed after flicking a Watson delivery straight into the hands of Cameron White at shot mid-wicket for 31 runs.

The in-form Rohit Sharma lasted just two balls before falling to Mitchell Starc. Sharma missed the line of the ball completely and had his off-stumps uprooted. Dhoni and Suresh Raina steered India past the 100-run mark when the Indian captain hit Cummins to offer a catch to his counterpart George Bailey at extra cover for 15. Ashwin and Raina then put on 33 runs for the seventh wicket to ensure a total of 140 for 7.

Chasing a run rate of seven runs per over, Australian opener David Warner began in his usual aggressive style, hitting opening bowler and off-spinner  Ravichandran Ashwin for two consecutive boundaries in the first over.  Shane Watson then hit Ashwin over square leg and mid-wicket for two sixes in his third over. The fearsome pair put on a 50-run partnership in just 6.4 overs. When Piyush Chawla was introduced in the sixth over, Watson pulled his first delivery for a six.

It was that kind of day for India.