Bridgetown (Barbados), May 7 (IANS) India surrendered meekly to Australia, and there was nothing to take heart from save Rohit Sharma’s brilliant counterpunch, as they went down by 49 runs in their first Super Eights match of World Twenty20.
Sent in, Australia went on a sixer-hitting spree to score 184 for five with the opening combination of David Warner (72 off 42 balls) and Shane Watson (54 off 32 balls) pulverising the Indian attack in a sensational onslaught of 104 from 10.5 overs. The pair, fed by slow bowlers on a fast and hard surface, hit 13 of Australia’s 16 sixes.
Chasing, the Indian batsmen showed no patience as they blindly attacked the quality Australian pace attack and were packed off for 135 runs in 17.4 overs.
Only Sharma (79 not out off 46 balls), getting his first chance in the tournament, stood defiantly even as wickets fell around him like nine pins. Sharma gave a batting lesson to his reputed compatriots who played inexplicable shots.
He showed courage and application to handle the pacers and it looked as if he was the lone Indian batsmen competing with Australia in flaunting sixer-hitting prowess. Sharma struck seven sixes with poise and timing.
Apart from Sharma, only Harbhajan Singh (13) reached the double digit. The lower order, not realising the importance of getting as close to target to at least maintain a decent run rate, was not prepared to stick around Sharma and left him stranded.
Had it not been for Sharma, India would have lost by a much bigger margin and that would strewn their road to semi-finals with thorns, if run-rate calculations are taken into account in deciding the two teams advancing from the group. India will now have to win their both matches against Sri Lanka and West Indies.
In fact, the Indian challenge against Australia ended even before it could start. Murali Vijay (2), Guatam Gambhir (9) and Suresh Raina (5) were back into the pavilion with 17 runs on the board inside four overs.
Vijay top edged a delivery while Gambhir and Raina played cross batted shots, trying to force the pace but mistimed and skied the ball.
Dirk Nannes (3-25) claimed the first two wickets and Shaun Tait (3-21) got one. The two pacemen worked up good pace and bounce from the wicket and the Indians were clearly uncomfortable in the middle.
Yuvraj Singh’s (1) search for the elusive form ended after two balls; his stumps shattered by a Nannes yorker.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (2) lost his patience after eight balls and picked leg spinner Steven Smith to go after the bowling, but ended up in the hands of David Hussey at long on.
Big hitter Yusuf Pathan (1) stayed for five balls before becoming a victim of left-arm pacer Mitchell Johnson. Ravindra Jadeja consumed another five balls before running himself out as India slumped to seven for 50. Jadeja had a horrible time with the ball too as he was hit for six sixes in two overs and even dropped Watson on seven.
Harbhajan (13) and Sharma brought some respite, adding 47 runs before the former went for a big heave and gave his wicket to Shane Watson.
Sharma continued to play his strokes before running out of partners.
Earlier, India relied on spinners on a fast track and it backfired miserably. Harbhajan Singh gave only 15 runs in fours overs, but the rest of the spinners Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan and Jadeja accounted for 93 runs in just eight overs.
Warner and Watson hammered the attack setting their side on the way to a huge total before India pulled back things in the final four overs giving away only 23 runs and not conceding a six.
Australia’s brutal batting included a feast of sixes. They made 96 runs from sixes.
Jadeja suffered the most as he was hit for three successive sixes by Watson at the end of his first over and when the left-arm spinner was brought back, Warner blasted three more in a row. His went in for 38 runs in two overs.
David Hussey contributed 35 runs off 22 balls with two sixes.
Ashish Nehra (2-31), Yuvraj Singh (2-20) were the pick of Indian bowlers.