Dubai: The Indian fans must have been elated after a dominating win against the world champions, Australia, at the Oval on Sunday. Chasing a big total, the Australians went about the task with precision and former skipper Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell were threatening to take the match away from India with a 36-run partnership in three overs. The turning point, however, when Bhuvneshwar Kumar trapped Smith leg before to break the partnership and struck again to dislodge the stumps of Marcus Stoinis two balls later, to swing the momentum back in India’s favour.
However, there was another incident earlier in the game, when India were batting, which could have tilted the scales in Australia’s way, but that was not taken and the match continued in the same path.
The openers Shikhar Dhawan, who went on to complete his third World Cup century, and Rohit Sharma, who’s having a great start in the showpiece with a half-century in this contest and a century in the opener against South Africa, gave a roaring start, which formed the base for Virat Kohli and the rest of the Indian batsmen to take the total to a whopping 352 for five.
After the exit of Dhawan, Hardik Pandya, who was promoted up the order to boost the run rate, was dropped by Australian wicketkeeper Alex Carey in the 38th over when the all-rounder was on zero. The reprive gave Pandya the freedom to swing his willow with gay abandon to score 48 off 27 balls, after which former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the company of Kohli kept increasing the temp to take the score past the 350 mark.
Had the catch been taken by Carey, Australia would have taken two wickets in quick succession and must have got the required toe hold to pull themselves up and shift the momentum towards the world champions, which they could have utilised to rein in the Indian batsmen towards the end of the innings.
From India’s point of view, after two quick wickets, Kohli and the rest of the batsmen would have been a bit more cautious in their approach and the Australians could have used that period to restrict the men in blue to a score a score of around 320, which would not have put so much pressure on themselves in the chase. But that was not to be and the chance went abbegging.
Carey went on to score a half-century off 25 balls towards the end of Australia’s chase, but by then the writing was on the wall and it is a pity that such an effort went in a losing cause. On a positive note for Australia, Carey and Nathan Coulter-Nile, who hit 92 in the last match against West Indies, give the world champions the depth in the batting.