In-form India outclass Australia in World Cup
London: Shikhar Dhawan smashed a century as India produced a masterful batting display to beat a spirited Australia by 36 runs in a marquee World Cup clash at the Kennington Oval here on Sunday.
Playing in front a large number of Indian spectators, Dhawan starred in the run-fest with a strokeful 117 while skipper Virat Kohli also chipped in with a quickfire 82 to help India post a mammoth 352/5 after opting to bat first on a flat deck.
With the ball, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/50) and Jasprit Bumrah (3/61) did the maximum damage with the former denting Aussies’ hopes of a fightback by dismissing Steve Smith and Marcus Stoinis in the 40th over.
Australia were in the hunt for most part of their chase with Smith (69; 70 balls, 4×5, 6×1) doing the spadework and wicketkeeper Alex Carey hitting a whirlwind unbeaten 55 off 35 balls (4×5, 6×1).
In the end, the slow start cost Australia as India snapped the defending champions’ 10-match winning streak with a comfortable victory. Australia were all out for 316.
The Aussies were off to a sedate start with skipper Aaron Finch and David Warner sharing a 61-run opening stand before the former got run out trying to take a second run. A fuming Finch stomped off the ground, making way for the in-form Smith.
Warner struggled with timing all along but with Smith he was associated in a 72-run partnership for the second wicket before holing out to Bhuvneshwar at deep mid-wicket off Yuzvendra Chahal.
Kuldeep Yadav and Chahal, India’s star wrist spinners, then applied the choke in the middle overs as Smith and Usman Khawaja found the going tough.
The pair laboured to a 69-run stand before Khawaja edged a full Bumrah delivery right into his own stumps while trying to shuffle across the stumps and ramp the ball past wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The Aussies were always in the hunt with Smith in the middle and partnerships being forged. And after Glenn Maxwell joined the former captain in the middle, their asking rate came down as the big-hitting batsman punched Bumrah to the long-on fence for a first-ball boundary before racing to 21 off just nine balls.
Just when Australia were making a case to chase down the huge target, Bhuvneshwar struck gold by sending back Smith and Stoinis in the 40th over.
Smith was trapped in front with the umpire first giving him not out, only for reviews to show otherwise. Bhuvneshwar then clipped Stoinis’ off stump to leave Carey and Nathan Coulter-Nile (4) with too much to do.
Earlier, Dhawan continued his love affair with ICC tournaments, as he cracked his 17th century in one-day internationals to lead India’s superlative batting show.
Dhawan added 127 runs with fellow opener Rohit Sharma and 93 with skipper Kohli to lay the foundation for a big total before departing for 117 off 109 balls with the help of 16 fours.
Kohli smashed 82 off 77 balls, his innings laced with four fours and two sixes, while Rohit too scored a fluent 57 off 70 balls with the help of three fours and one six.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya, dropped behind the wicket off the very first ball he faced, smashed 48 off 27 balls (4×4, 6×3) to justify his promotion in the batting order.
Former India captain Dhoni, unruffled by the “gloves” controversy, also joined the party with a breezy 14-ball 27, hitting three fours and a huge six off Mitchell Starc (1/74).
Stoinis was the pick of the bowlers (2/62) while Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins also picked up one wicket each but not without getting hit to all areas of the park.
Brief Scores: India: 352/5 in 50 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 117, Virat Kohli 82, Rohit Sharma 57; Marcus Stoinis 2/62); Australia: 316 all out in 50 overs (Steve Smith 69, Alex Carey 55 not out, David Warner 56; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3/50, Jasprit Bumrah 3/61)