India stepped up to number three on the points table with an emphatic win against Australia at The Oval on Sunday (June 9). It was more of a ‘clash of the titans’ as the two cricket heavyweights battled it out for supremacy. In the past, Australia have had the upper hand in their rivalry with India having lost eight of their 11 World Cup matches against the Aussies. This, of course, includes the heartbreaking loss of the 2003 World Cup finals where India were decimated by a comprehensive 125 run defeat.
None of that seemed to be of consequence for this match though. India made no bones about ending Australia’s 10 ODI win streak and handing them their first defeat of the 2019 World Cup. The chase target of 352 was the highest total against Australia in World Cup history.
Dhawan’s the man
Shikhar Dhawan (117) set the victory wagon in motion, delivering a lethal but disciplined partnership of 127 runs with Rohit Sharma (57). Dhawan’s return to form could not have arrived at a more opportune time for India as his 117 runs from just 109 balls were pivotal in providing the groundwork for the team’s win. This marked his 17th ODI hundred and his third World Cup hundred. Interestingly, his only other century this year was also against Australia. He, however, couldn’t take field as he sustained a thumb injury by a delivery from Nathan Coulter-Nile while batting.
Rohit Sharma (57) became the second Indian player to reach the lofty landmark of 2000 ODI runs with Sachin Tendulkar being the first.
Virat Kohli played a captain’s innings, garnering 82 runs off 77 balls and scoring his 50th ODI half-century. He played a confident but restrained innings for the most part, stumbling a bit when a quick run call to get Dhawan his 100 almost cost him his wicket. Kohli didn’t just win the match but also a lot of respect when he condemned Indian fans for booing Steve Smith and asked them to cheer for him instead. This was a classy display of sportsmanship from the Indian captain and ended up earning him a lot of respect.
Pandya (48 off 27) went on to hit three classic boundaries after being dropped by Carey before getting off the mark. His almost half-century helped India take 116 off the last 10 overs.
Woes of Aussies
To add to Australia’s woes, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-50) and Jasprit Bumrah (3-61) worked their magic with the ball taking regular wickets and bringing the run chase to a halt.
David Warner (56) and Steve Smith (69) were putting up a stable foundation for the chase with their partnership but Bhuvneshwar struck gold when he pinned Smith leg before. India had to go to review for this one as the original standing had been not out. Kumar also bowled Marcus Stoinis in the 40th over.
Team captain Aaron Finch tried to bring about a comeback but was soon sent packing for 36. His furious reaction to the dismissal confirmed the game was out of their hands. Even Alex Carey’s brilliant 55 runs off 35 balls were too little, too late for the Australians to make a comeback.
Warner briefly had the lady luck on his side as he managed to survive a stump out by Bumrah when the bails stayed on. He wasn’t lucky for long as he was taken in the deep by Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Bumrah closed the deal, taking out Nathan Coulter-Nile, Usman Khawaj and Adam Zampa ensuring the Aussie innings wrapped up with 316 all out.
India always looked one step ahead in the game and it never really looked liked the Australians had a chance at victory. They were outplayed on all fronts, be it batting, bowling or fielding.
India meets New Zealand next and if their current form is maintained it would be a match to remember. Australia, on the other hand, would need to dust itself off and regain balance before their next outing against Pakistan.