The hosts India taking on the World Champions Australia, as it came down to this one final match in Group 2. The stakes could not have been higher as the winners of this high voltage encounter would move forward to lock horns with the West Indies in the semi-finals. Both the teams have had a similar kind of World Cup till this point and it was almost impossible to pick a winner on paper.
But as it turned out, one man from Delhi decided to go out and steal the lime light and show the world why class has a different level of respect in any form of cricket. The fact that the lad scored half the team’s runs and that too while chasing, recites the story of Virat Kohli’s escalating stature in world cricket. So in this edition of EssentiallySports, we would love to highlight some of the talking points from this exhilarating India – Australia encounter:
He may not be as genteel as someone you expect to be in the gentleman’s game, but whenever he steps into that field, he may contribute to that self-made legacy which is difficult to not be smitten with. A man infused with so much self-motivation and passion for the game – Virat Kohli may have played one of the best international innings when he walked out against the Aussies in Mohali.
The reason why it can be alluded as one of the very best is because of the impeccable temperament and indomitable self-confidence shown by this man throughout this innings. He waded through the choppy waters, kept calm, built up his innings and finally when the situation demanded, wielded his stick to every nook and cranny of the ground to prise out those needed boundaries.
It may be recorded as a 51 ball 82, but it was an innings that was worthy of a top class century. The reason which made it all the more predisposing and pleasing to the eye was because of the fact that it didn’t had any paddle sweeping a fast bowler to fine leg, or reversing sweeping to an off spinner or what not, it was plain genuine orthodox text book cricketing shots which were just applied to perfection. People may still reserve their choices about the best batsman in the limited editions in the present day, but when it comes to chasing in a high-pressure situation, we all know who the paterfamilias is.
The Australian openers certainly had their own ideas when they came out to bat after winning the toss. They were firing on all cylinders with Usman Khawaja deciding to deal only in boundaries in the initial part of his innings.
Aaron Finch then decided to carry the baton as he heaped Ashwin-India’s go to man in the power play, to back to back sixes. They reached the 50-run mark in under four overs and provided a perfect platform to take the visitors to a mammoth total.
It was only in the fifth over that Ashish Nehra managed to find a knick off Khawaja’s bat but the damage was already done. The Australians were off to a start as good as any as they raced up to 59 runs in the power play.
It all seemed hunky dory as the mighty Australians seemed to have complete levers over the proceedings. But the Indian bowlers managed to hang in after the early assault. They were disciplined and consistent in their lengths and bowled according to the field.
The likes of Hardik Pandya, Yuvraj Singh and Ravindra Jadeja made sure that the guests weren’t greeted with many free bees and ended up frustrating the Australian batsmen. They ended up throwing their wicket at wrong intervals and this got the momentum to roil in the home team’s favour.
Glenn Maxwell was determined to keep up the fight from his end, but looked a shadow of his truculent propensity. Finally The Australians clambered to a modest 160 which was still a decent score considering the pitch was holding up a little. But the fact that they could only manage 100 odd runs in the final 84 balls of the innings had a discernible effect on the outcome of the game.
Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina are slowly but steadily entering into a dystopia where decent scores beside their names are more of a dream than reality. And the story was no different today as both the stylish left handers who could be as truculent as it gets on their days, fell prey to the short deliveries.
Had it not been for Virat Kohli and significant contributions from the likes of Yuvraj and Dhoni, it would have been the hosts packing their bags tonight. And thus it would be interesting to see that how much longer these players can be allowed to rest on their laurels keeping Ajinkya Rahane out of the frame. Just because the Indian captain does not prefer to meddle with the winning combination, gives no real explanation for carrying on with the appendages.
For a moment it can be pondered that Raina has a role to play on rank turners, given he provides an extra spinning option but it wouldn’t be surprising at all if Shikhar Dhawan leaves the opening slot for Rahane in the upcoming semi-finals.
For many years, Indian cricket did not seem to be a firm believer of the minor factors that adorns the game, other than using the stick or bowling a ball. The idea of strict diets, compact sleek bodies with top fitness levels, lightening quick runners between the wicket and exceptionally good fielders was foreign to us. But it has been one of the most paradigm shifts in the Indian cricket and today it finally showed results.
It is really overwhelming to see two Indian batsmen taking on the arms of Maxwell and Warner as they convert ones into twos in tight situations. It really was a true reflection of the endurance and fitness level of the Indian batsmen as they challenged one of the most exceptional fielding units of the world in their own forte. And it played a handful part in shifting the momentum during a chase as you really don’t know how to stop the run flow when the batsmen are stealing runs from your best fielders in the deep.