Watson scored 72 (including seven sixes) and earlier claimed 3/34 with the ball as Australia tested India with tight bowling and pressure. Irfan Pathan was India’s highest scorer with 31.
In hot and muggy conditions, Australia’s bowlers had the jump on India from the very start. Gautam Gambhir (17) was the first to go after some deft footwork from Pat Cummins to kick the ball onto the stumps had the opener just short of his ground. Virat Kohli was the next to go for 15, skying a short ball to Dan Christian at mid on.
The next wicket group came in the form of three from seven balls, with Yuvraj Singh (8), Pathan (31) and Rohit Sharma (1) all gone.
Ball of the night came from Mitchell Starc, who produced an around-the-wicket pearler that jagged back into Rohit Sharma, taking out leg stump. After Sharma’s dismissal, two 30-run plus partnerships from captain MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina then Raina and off-spinner Ravi Ashwin allowed India to put some respectability on the scoreboard after having slumped to 5/74.
India’s final score of 7/140 never looked enough on a pitched that screamed 150 and above. And Australia pounced.
After a rain break three balls into the Indians, everything swung into Australia’s favour. India’s seeming lack of motivation gifted Australia runs, Watson and David Warner (63 not out) taking any opportunity to exploit India’s bad bowling and plethora of short balls. Watson screamed to his 50 in 28 balls, clubbing six sixes before he reached the milestone. Warner wasn’t far behind and reached his half-century two overs later.
An opening partnership of 133 before Watson was dismissed leaved just eight runs to score before the win, and Glenn Maxwell (4 not out) saw the innings through to the end with Warner, with 31 balls still to spare.
If India want to have any chance of progressing to the semi-finals, they must redeem themselves and find some big form for their next game against Pakistan. For the Aussies, a win against the in-form South Africans will possibly see them firm into some favouritism to be tournament victors.
(image source: ICC)
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