Australia’s massive target of 328 was a bit too much for a semi-final, even for a good batting line up like India’s.
The Indian bowling attack, which had created a world record by bowling out teams in seven consecutive matches, looked helpless when Steven Smith and Aaron Finch rebuilt the innings after the early loss of David Warner.
None of the Indian bowlers seemed to create any sort of impact as the duo stitched a match-winning 182-run stand for the second wicket.
While the Indian bowlers fought back by picking wickets at regular intervals in the latter part of the innings, death bowling – one of the major areas of concern ahead of the tournament, was once again very poor as Australia amassed 70 runs in the last six overs. Mitchell Johnson only added salt to the wounds of Indian bowlers, fans with his 27 runs which came off just 9 balls.
When India came on to bat, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan provided them with an excellent 76-run stand for the first wicket. Shikhar Dhawan got a bit carried away and played a shot too many to give Aussies the much required breakthrough. This became the turning point of the match. Even Dhoni called it the turning point in the post match presentation adding that “Shikhar should have stayed on the crease as India was cruising till then. There was no need to play a high risk shot at that point in the match”.
Once Dhawan departed, soon followed the hopes of 1.3 Billion cricket fans as Virat departed for 1 from 13. He fell to a pull-shot, trying to hit in-form Johnson for a crisp boundary. Although Kohli played this shot successfully throughout the Test series in Australia, this time may be the pressure or perhaps that 150KMPH+ pace from Jhonson that Virat Kohli fell to.
Rohit and Raina departed soon and it was all upto the Indian Skipper and Ajinkya Rahane who were unable to cope up with the ever climbing run rate. Ajinkya got out in the Batting powerplay and Dhoni decided to stay on the crease till the end. That was the only hope left for India. Last 10 overs India required 130+ runs with 4 wickets remaining. Jadeja couldn’t help his skipper for long as he also departed cheaply.
We saw distress on MSD’s face as he also knew that with Ashwin on the other end, target is getting bigger and bigger every ball. MSD took Hazlewood and Watson for a couple of Sixes before Maxwell ended Dhoni’s 65 run innings with a brilliant run out.
Now that was a rare sight. We all know how good a runner is Dhoni. But, perhaps he gave up the run a bit soon. Had he dragged his bat or tried to reach, he would have made it. After Dhoni, it was cakewalk for the new Malinga, “Starc” as he yorked out the Indian tail.
Dhoni has an incredible record of winning matches. Stats prove that, Out of 35 times that he was not out till the end, India has won 34 matches. Every Indian fan glued to their TV sets till he was on the crease. We all know that be it 15 runs an over for the last 6 overs or may be more, Dhoni has a nag of winning matches, or one can say pulling off miracles!
But, today was not Indian Cricket Team’s day. They have been brilliant in all departments in CWC15 throughout, this being the only exception…
So, We should be proud of how India played in non sub-continental conditions. We reached Semi-finals which no other Sub-Continental team did. Be proud of the bowlers who bowled out all oppositions in all 7 matches. Be proud of every Batsmen who stood up in different situations; When one got out, other stood up and took up the responsibility. Be proud of every player who dived on the cricket field to stop every single run, to take catches, to run out the opposition batsmen.
Team India played their heart out and that’s highly appreciable. And there is no shame loosing to a 4-time world champion. Although the defeat margin was 95 runs, but believe me when I say, it wasn’t! It appeared a close game till the last 5 overs…
Indian players can return home now, satisfied with their heads held high. Hope India’s media doesn’t create a mess out of the loss now. And Indian fans try to understand 1 loss after 7 consecutive wins in CWC15.