Australia have crushed India by 9 wickets. These are the scores of the Australian openers and I will leave it you to come up with an adequate story. Trust me, you won't go wrong.
Warner 63* (41)
Watson 72 (42)
India did well to bowl a lot of dot balls, but most of them after Australia required lesser than 10 runs.
To stand a chance in the semis, India have to win the next games quite emphatically. One possible way is to beat Pakistan and South Africa convincingly. The other harder way is for Dhoni to walk up to Flower or Cook and say, “Look we are giving you two more chances. Beat us if you can,” and then play against them on rank turners.
Australia are 100/0 after 10 overs and that explains most of what has happened so far. It’s raining sixes here at the Premadasa stadium. Watson and Warner have hit six sixes and two fours in this span of five overs.
Indian bowling has been filth throughout as they have either dropped it too short or over-pitched forcing the batsmen either to heave or pull.
India are not only playing themselves out of the game but also out of the tournament for their NRR is likely to take a beating here.
Australia couldn’t have got off to a more convincing start. They have scored 38 runs in these five overs and have scored most of their runs against Ashwin.
In the first over, Warner carved one through the cover. In the third he reached out to a half-volley outside off and dragged it to long-off for a boundary. In the fifth over it was Watson’s turn as he pulled Ashwin over square-leg and then clobbered one over midwicket for another six.
Dhoni tactics have been baffling. He has not introduced an in-form Irfan Pathan, who is not as good with the old ball as he is with the new ball, for reasons best known to him. Zaheer Khan, who is India’s only hope in the death overs, has bowled two overs instead. May be he is expecting the spinners to finish it off before the 15th over. But wait, Australia are looking to finish things off here.
Overs 15-20 India 140/7
India get to 140 at the end of 20 overs, which might be 10 runs shy off what they would have expected. But given the slowness of the wicket, with India going into the game with three spinners, we have a close contest on the cards here.
Dhoni, as Ramesh Srivats put it, was hogging most of the strike instead of striking Hogg, before tried to clear cover and found Bailey there.
MS Dhoni c Bailey b Cummins 15 off 21 balls (2x4)
Ashwin (16* off 14 balls) played a handy cameo for a No. 8 batsman. He cut Christian bisecting point and cover and in the next over pulled Cummins over midwicket for a huge six.
However, it was Raina, who made sure India reached a competitive score.
He pulled the first ball off the last over unconvincingly and it fell inches short to Warner’s dive and bounced over him for four. The next ball was bowled on Raina’s pads, which he only had to get a bat one. Raina tried to clear long-off in the next delivery but found Maxwell, who pouched a safe catch.
S Raina c Maxwell b Watson 26 off 19 balls (4x4)
After a decent start by India, Australia are turning it around here. The last 10 overs have belonged to them as they have conceded 64 runs and taken 4 wickets.
Between over 11 and 12, India lost three wickets in a span of four deliveries. Yuvraj was the first to get go pulling Watson straight to deep mid-wicket.
Y Singh c Maxwell b Watson 8 off 10 balls (1x4)
Irfan then tried to chip a length ball from Watson over short midwicket and found White’s fingers.
I Pathan c White b Watson 31 off 30 balls (2x4 1x6)
While these were soft dismissals, it was Rohit Sharma’s dismissal which spelt ominous signs for India. Rohit’s lack of footwork initially was exploited by Cummins, who came around the wicket and brought the ball back into him. He was beaten by pace and the angle as the stumps were sent into recline.
R Sharma b Starc 1 off 2 balls
Bradd Hogg kept the Indian batsmen guessing mixing it up with his wrong-one, a delivery 95% of the batsmen have failed picked.
India’s hopes rests on Dhoni and Raina’s shoulders. Since India are batting first, Dhoni wouldn’t be able to take it to the final over but can still hang in there and make sure India get past 150.
Australian spinners have done well to control the flow of runs and pick up the wicket of Kohli. They have only given away 28 runs in five overs.
In the 7th over, Kohli miscued a pull shot which cost him his wicket. Christian, who was standing at mid-off, took a very good sliding catch.
Kohli c Christian b Cummins 15 off 13b (2x4)
It was a reasonable decision to Yuvraj send at No.4. The southpaw has given a hint about his form but has never really converted it into runs.
Irfan Pathan is playing the role of a blocker here. Given that there is so much batting to come, he should make every delivery count from now on.
Bradd Hogg, meanwhile, is having a hearty laugh at those who want 35-year olds to retire. He was introduced after the sixth over and varied his pace and length enough to make sure the batsmen don’t get away. He's only given 11 runs in two overs.
As Irfan and Gambhir opened the innings for India, Australia tried opening with a spinner against Gambhir, a decision that raised so many eyebrows. Luckily Maxwell got away with only eight runs including one boundary as the other one unfortunately stopped inches away from the ropes.
Gambhir’s dismissal was unfortunate. Irfan Pathan blocked a short of a length delivery and ran as Gambhir responded. Cummins’ footwork ensured that the bails were dislodged even as he came in Gambhir’s way - justifiable as he was only attacking the ball. Having said that, Gambhir also looked in very good touch. He played a couple of delicate cut strokes and drove Maxwell between cover and cover point.
G Gambhir run out 17 off 12 balls (3x4)
Sanjay Manjrekar tweets: Gambhir run out - See, there is a reason that cricketers play foot ball before matches : )
Virat Kohli announced his arrival by punching Starc for a boundary in the fourth over. Irfan finally showed intentions of attacking in the fifth over as he sent a length delivery from Watson over long-off. In the same over, he gave himself room and lofted a back of a length delivery over point for four.
India have won the toss and decided to bat. Regarding the team composition, you guessed it right. Sehwag has been dropped from the team as India play three spinners. However, don't forget it was me who made you think!
G Gambhir, V Kohli, S Raina, R Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (Captain & wicket-keeper), I Pathan, R Ashwin, H Singh, P Chawla, Z Khan
D Warner, S Watson, M Hussey, C White, G Bailey (Captain), G Maxwell, M Wade (Wicket-keeper), D Christian, P Cummins, M Starc, G Hogg
Andy Flower has never been so livid, it is understood. He has shaken his head in disappointment, then confirmed if it was AB de Villiers who uttered the words he had just heard. It wasn’t and what he saw seems to have made things worse. At one stage as the emotions jostled, he has grabbed one of the photos which was hanging on the wall in his hotel room and hurled it to the ground.
One English player says that Flower had watched the presentation party and had heard Dhoni say, “Now we have a problem of plenty with both the spinners doing well today.”
His actions were perhaps justifiable, huh?
While it would have been safer to have used such statements when England visit India this November, that Dhoni said it after last match is an indicator that there are going to be drastic changes in the India’s eleven today.
Meanwhile, Greg Chappell has expressed the tribulations of trying to work with Sehwag through a column in The Hindu, it is logical to expect Ganguly to tell us the ill effects of visiting a gym. The article is so well timed that when someone questions Dhoni’s intentions behind dropping Sehwag, he could well direct them towards it.
There are also talks about Dhoni plans to go into the game with five bowlers. Ashwin and Zaheer are expected to return back to the side after being rested. Harbhajan might have given himself the necessary edge with his performance last game. Balaji has hardly justified his comeback and Dinda almost bowled himself out of the team, which also gives Harbhajan a clear chance.
The dilemma will finally boil down to choosing between Yuvraj and Sehwag and given that Yuvraj is Dhoni’s go-to bowler, I’m leaving it to you to guess who among the two is going to make it to the eleven.