India continued their excellent start to the World Cup as they beat defending champions Australia by 36 runs at the Oval. It was the first time since 1999 that the Aussies had lost a World Cup game while chasing. Here are our talking points from the game.
A bad day at the office for David Warner
When Warner edged the first ball of Jasprit Bumrah’s spell onto his stumps, the bails (not for the first time in this tournament!) failed to be dislodged. At that time, Australia could be forgiven for thinking that it was their day- Warner, after all, was expected to play a prominent role in the chase. However it was a stroke of luck that actually worked out in India’s favour.
The 32 year old Warner made a painfully slow 56 in 84 balls- effectively taking up 14 of Australia’s 50 overs in a tough run chase. It was his slowest ever ODI fifty and the slowest one by an Australian opener since Mark Waugh in 1999. Given how the 50 over game has progressed in the last two decades, those are pretty damning numbers. Even worse, Warner ran out partner Aaron Finch, who looked in excellent nick, leading the latter to take out his frustration on the furniture in the dressing room- not the type of outburst we see often from the Victorian.
Scoreboard pressure tells on Australia
Australia had clinched a famous victory in Mohali only three months ago- chasing a mammoth 359 to inflict a stunning defeat on India. However they failed to pace their innings at the Oval, perhaps taking a little too long to press on the accelerator.
India had hit 116 runs in their last 10 overs and Australia sought to replicate their plan. At the end of the 40th over, they were actually marginally ahead of India, but scoreboard pressure often tells when you’re chasing, and that’s what precisely happened with the Aussies as they fell 36 runs short.
Rohit Sharma & Shikhar Dhawan set up strong platform for India victory
This was India’s first victory over Australia in a league World Cup clash since 1987, and was largely down to the excellent work done by Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. The duo, knowing that Mitch Starc and Pat Cummins were the key bowlers for Australia, saw them off and targetted the weaker bowlers.
Their opening stand of 127 laid the foundation for India’s 300 plus score and allowed the likes of Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni and KL Rahul to hit from the word go. Sharma, who had scored a century in the win against South Africa, followed it up with a half century while Dhawan’s 125 means that he has three World Cup tons- only Sachin Tendulkar has more among Indian players.
The duo broke several records along the way- they became the most prolific opening pair against Australia, surpassing the legendary pair of Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge. Sharma also reached the 2000 run landmark against Australia.
Did Australia miss a trick by not promoting Maxwell or Carey?
Until Glenn Maxwell reached the crease, Australia’s chase was merely tottering along. He started his innings with an impressive four off Bumrah and also targetted Bhuvneshwar at the other end- the latter gave more runs in his sixth over than his first five put together.
Maxwell made 28 in 14 balls while Alex Carey smashed the fastest fifty of this year’s World Cup. Should Australia have promoted one of the two early in their innings, just to tee off and reduce pressure on the incoming batsmen? By the time Maxwell and Carey walked in, the bulk of the overs were to bowled by Bumrah and Bhuvi- India’s best bowlers. Should they have been sent ahead to target Pandya and the spinners?
Carey gives Pandya a life
Alex Carey dropped a straightforward chance when Hardik Pandya hadn’t even opened his scoring. The MI all rounder made Australia pay for the lapse, with his 27-ball 48 a key reason for India crossing the 350 mark. If Carey had taken that catch, India might have only managed 330 odd and that, given how the game played out, might have been chaseable for Justin Langer’s men.