Shane Watson grabbed 3-34 and struck 72 off 42 balls to lift Australia to an emphatic nine-wicket win over India in the Super Eights match of the World Twenty20 in Colombo yesterday.
Watson, who was adjudged man of the match for the third consecutive game, shared a first-wicket stand of 133 with David Warner (63 not out) as Australia eased past India's 140-7 in the 15th over.
Warner smashed three sixes and seven boundaries and Watson plundered seven sixes and two fours in a batting treat for a sell-out crowd of 35,000 at the Premadasa stadium. The pair treated the Indian bowlers with disdain as Warner lofted Harbhajan Singh for two successive sixes and Watson hit leg-spinner Piyush Chawla for two sixes in his first over.
When seamer Irfan Pathan came on to bowl the 10th over, Watson greeted him with a sequence of 6, 6 and 4 to bring up Australia’s 100 in the same over.
Watson fell in the 14th over when just eight more runs were needed for victory, caught in the covers off Yuvraj Singh.
Watson’s match-winning display followed his 51 and 3-26 against Ireland and 41 not out and 2-29 in the second game against the West Indies. “Batting is probably a bit more enjoyable than bowling, when it is two of you against 11 of the opposition. That’s probably more satisfying, but I enjoy being an all-rounder,” Watson said.
Earlier, makeshift opener Pathan made 31 and Suresh Raina boosted the total towards the end with 26 off 19 balls after Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat.
India dropped opener Virender Sehwag to play five specialist bowlers, including three spinners, and Pathan to open the innings with Gautam Gambhir.
Dhoni said the brief 10-minute stoppage for rain at the start of Australia’s innings cost his team the game. “Rain just came at the wrong time. A wet ball is not good for spinners. That was the main reason we lost. It is important to look at what mistakes we made,” he said.
“We got off to a good start, but lost quick wickets. And we were not in a good situation to cash in,” he said. “We were about 20 runs short. But it is also important to get this defeat out of the system and prepare for the future,” added Dhoni.
Brief scores: India: 140-7 (Irfan Pathan 31, Suresh Raina 26; Shane Watson 3-34, Pat Cummins 2-16)
Australia: 141-1 in 14.5 overs (S Watson 72, D Warner 63*; Yuvraj Singh 1-16)