London: The Oval pitch here finally showed its true colours – remaining unaffected by the morning moisture and late evening cloud. The Indian batsmen too unravelled their real power; they remained unaffected by the pressure of the big game and flexed their mighty batting muscle. With two wins in two games and world champions Australia conquered, India are on a roll in this World Cup. Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and even Hardik Pandya gave India’s campaign the much-needed batting impetus as the Men in Blue wore down a fighting Australia in a battle of attrition. The 36-run win was a tribute to the all-round display of Kohli’s men, who not only matched the world champions in every department but also did a little better in a couple of areas –bowling and fielding. It was a 10-on-10 show. The win was also a tribute to the all-round team performance as much as to the left-handed opener, who resurrects himself from the abyss when it is England and an ICC event. Dhawan, not in the best of form since the team landed here in England, led from the top with a characteristically ballistic century, his sixth in ICC tournaments, as India lived up to the trusted and tested formula that was so instrumental in the team’s success in the global championships here in England – 2013 and 2017 Champions Trophy. The openers laid the foundation, the middle-order built on it and the late-middle order, including MS Dhoni, gave it a mighty flourish to set up a target that would have been too steep for any opposition. Australia tried their best but ran out of steam while chasing 353. Dhawan was rather invisible since landing here. As India worked hard to defend the game on a fading Sunday evening, he was conspicuous by his absence on the field but before he disappeared into the dressing room with a thumb injury, he made a statement with a 127-run partnership for the opening wicket with opening partner Rohit. From that point, India did not look back as Kohli took control for the middle overs and Pandya delivered the cameo that only he can with four fours and three sixes in 27-ball 48. It reminded the England crowd of his exploits in the Champions Trophy two years ago, when he had struck three consecutive sixes to the amazement of the crowd against Pakistan. It was high-class batting against high quality bowling. The Australians went into the chase with a conservative approach, trying to protect the wickets rather than go crash-bang after the bowlers. The target did not rattle them as they kept on rotating the strike but Kohli, who showed a lot of boldness by choosing to bat, responded to the waiting Australian game by holding back his key bowler – Jasprit Bumrah. It was a high-quality game, with the captain reading the situation and visualising the challenge perfectly. David Warner, otherwise an attacking batsman, was cautious, hoping to weather the early storm from the new ball. India responded to him with a barrage of short-pitch bowling that seemed to unsettle the left-handed opener. He took all that under his chin, but he fell to the mounting asking-rate after reaching his half century that can be called slow by his standard. He put on 72 with Steve Smith for the second wicket but the two were stymied by some quality bowling in the middle-overs. Smith too was in a similarly waiting mode but India too were ready to wait. The former captain fell after reaching his half century, as the mounting scoreboard pressure forced him to change his style. He was also shackled by the Indian bowlers who bowled with a lot of discipline and did not give too many loose balls. The bowlers perfectly complemented the batsmen. In the end, wicketkeeper Alex Carey gave India some scare by hitting some timely boundaries but the requirement of the situation was too much. He pulled off a stunning half-century but could not up the pace — Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who bowled the death overs with pinpoint accuracy, had just put the equation beyond them. Australia were all out for 316 exactly in 50 overs losing their first match in nine World Cup games as Sunday’s contest witnessed highest runs in a World Cup match, 668. But what mattered in the end was that one team out-batted, out-bowled, out-fielded and even out-thought the other.
About The Author
- LCA Tejas won’t be part of Paris Air Show; here’s why
- Usha Uthup performs at Taj MG Road, Bengaluru
- Rakesh Singh eased out as BDA commissioner
- On way to get their Aadhar cards corrected, four die after auto collides with bus in Bengaluru
- IMA Mohammed Mansoor Khan met me with Shivajinagar MLA Roshan Baig: Revenue minister R V Deshpande