World Cup 2019: Ton-up Shikhar Dhawan stars as India beat Australia
Shikhar Dhawan's ton helps India outwit Australia at London venue where Kohli & Co win by 36 runs; Bumrah, Chahal brilliant again
Putting up a huge score was just half the job done. Even after India notched up a massive 352 for 5, they could not take victory for granted against the gritty Australians. They knew the bowlers will have to bowl exceedingly well to tame the defending champions.
David Warner, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell kept Australia's hopes alive till they were at the crease. Things turned India's way only after Smith was adjudged LBW on review (DRS) off Bhuvenshwar Kumar in the 40th over, and two balls later Bhuvi castled Marcus Stoinis to add to the Aussies' misery.
The match came into India's grasp when Yuzvendra Chahal in the following over had the dangerous Maxwell brilliantly caught by super-sub Ravindra Jadeja. From there on, the Indian bowlers tightened the screws as Australia fell to their first defeat in their third match of this World Cup.
The 36-run win, their second in as many matches, will give India immense confidence for their next two games, against an unbeaten New Zealand at Nottingham on June 13 and then against arch-rivals Pakistan next Sunday.
It was a thoroughly professional performance, even more comprehensive than their earlier victory over South Africa, that would have warmed the cockles of their fans, as the Men in Blue stride towards their first objective of ensuring a semi-final berth. Of course, they still have a long way to go, but the momentum they have gained will keep them in good stead in their next two outings.
The role of the Indian batsmen, especially the top three, cannot be discounted. The morning turned out to be sunny and the pitch placid. On winning the toss, Virat Kohli did not have any hesitation and decided to make the most of the perfect batting conditions at The Oval.
Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are too experienced and quality players to let go of an opportunity. Dhawan grabbed the chance with both hands to get back into form with a well-compiled 117, while Sharma teed off from where he had left off at Southampton against South Africa. He was looking good for another century (57 off 70 balls) until a superb Nathan Coulter-Nile delivery had him caught-behind. By then the openers had laid a foundation for a big total with a stand of 127 runs of 22.3 overs.
Kohli, who too had missed out on a big one in the opening match, batted fluently. In the slog overs, he never attempted to hog the bowling and was happy to let Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni collect quick runs. He finally departed for 82 in the final over.
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World Cup 2019: Dominant India thrash Pakistan by 89 runs