Sunday, April 3, 2016

World Cup T20 : Finals - West Indies vs England - The World turned Maroon

The the picturesque Eden Gardens, Kolkata, one of the best grounds in the world.
Sammy won the all important toss & chose to field - an obvious choice, considering, that they have successfully chased all targets, except the blip against Afghanistan.

With the under 19 having won the tournament against India earlier this year in Bangladesh & the Women's team having won their maiden trophy earlier in the day against mighty Aussies, it was now upto Sammy's team to make it a fantastic treble.

Jason Roy & Alex Hales opened for England & were immediately in trouble, as Badree, opening the bowling, clean bowled the dangerous Roy with the 2nd delivery. Huge wicket, considering that Roy had given England all the explosive beginnings in the tournament, including the ones against SA & Kiwis. Russell from the other end, got rid of Alex Hales, caught at leg slip, with England gasping at 8 for 2, both openers gone for nothing. Badree kept the pressure in his next over too, giving almost nothing away. Root, in at one down, looked in good nick, & along with Morgan got runs to the total, creaming some well placed boundaries to reach 23 for 2 at end of 4 overs. Badree then picked up Morgan, caught in slips, as England slid to 23 for 3. It was good captaincy by Sammy to persist with Badree & get rich dividends. At end of power plays, it was 33 for 3. The wicket looked a bit double paced, & the ball was keeping a bit low. Badree ended his quota with impressive figures of 16 for 2, as Sammy now turned to his pacers for some purchase. Root, England's most consistent batsman was looking good here as well, & with Buttler, tried to resurrect the faltering batting. The first six of the match came with Buttler lifting Benn over long off in the 9th over, as 50 of the innings also came up. Benn was proving expensive at this stage. Midway stage, it was 67 for 3, with Root on 39 & Buttler on 21...both looking quite comfortable in the middle. Two more sixes by Buttler off Benn, gave the momentum, as the score rapidly went upto 83 for 3, with 16 runs coming in the 11th over. Just, as they looked like taking the match away, Buttler pulled a Braithwaite delivery to Bravo at mid wicket boundary.....dangerous looking Buttler out for a very well made 36 off just 22 deliveries. They had added 61 invaluable runs in just 40 balls. Meanwhile, Root brought up his 50 runs in just 33 deliveries..... pure class of batsmanship, as England went past 100 runs in the 13th over, Sammy giving away 14  runs. Bravo then got rid of Ben Stokes, caught off a slower by Simmons at gully..... big wicket & then Moeen Ali nicked a wide delivery behind, leaving England reeling at 110 for 6. Root too perished, maybe to the pressure building up..... as he lofted a ball from Braithwaite behind to be caught by Benn for a splendid 54...with England having lost 3 quick wickets to be at 111 for 7...... at end of 15 overs it was 115 for 7, with all batsmen back in the dug out. It was now tailenders Willey & Jordan at crease. Willey blasted two sixes off Bravo full tosses in the 17th over, taking the score to 131. His pyrotechnics did not last long though, as Braithwaite had him caught in the deep, for a sweet cameo of 21 runs. Braithwaite ended his 4 overs with 3 for 24...excellent figures. Plunkett went out next caught brilliantly by Badree, as the score read 142 for 9, & Bravo ended his spell with figures of 3 for 37. England finished at 155 for 9 in their 20 overs....a near par score, keeping in mind that this was the finals. Barring Benn & Sammy (one over) all other bowlers were effective, with Badree having a fabulous day, scalping 2 wickets & taking two wonderful catches.
While the Windies had plucked 9 wickets, Root(he was fantastic), Buttler, Willey made impactful contributions to take England past the 150 mark. They now had a decent score to bowl at, as Windies would need to bat sensibly at the top to win.

Windies needed 156 runs at almost 8 runs an over, as Gayle & Charles walked into the middle to start the chase. Willey opened the bowling for England. The 1st over was quiet, but Root came into bowl spin the 2nd over, as a surprise move by Morgan, & Charles hit him too high to be caught in the deep by Stokes. Windies had lost an early wicket. Samuels in now. Gayle too holed out to Windies slid to 5 for 2...Root having consumed two extermely crucial wickets, with both openers back in the dug out. Willey got in form Simmons LBW next, as the Windies were left reeling at 11 for 3...was the pressure of finals taking over ??....they needed someone to control & settle nerves in the middle, as Bravo walked in next. At end of power plays, it was 37 for 3, with Samuels getting a couple of boundaries & looking to steady the innings. But immediately after, he casually nicked a ball to the keeper. Replays showed that the catch was not clean.... a reprieve for Samuels & the Windies. Plunkett was the unlucky bowler, having bowled superbly. 50 came up in the 9th over, as West Indies looked for some flourish & momentum in the batting. Mid way through the score read 54 for 3, needing another 102 runs in 10 overs. 50 run partnership came up in 52 deliveries....rather slow for this format, but very crucial for the circumstance. They now needed to start unleashing big shots. Bravo tried to break shackles with a six, but got caught in the gully for a run a ball, 25. The score reading 86 for 4. Samuels had reached a run a ball 50 at the other end, as Windies clearly needed someone to hit big. The required run rate crept to almost 12. Two sixes in the 15th over took the score past 100, as Windies needed another 52 in the last five slog overs. Russell got out to a brilliant catch taken at the boundary by Stokes, & the Sammy went out cheaply too....score reading 107 for 6...Willey taking two crucial wickets in the 16th over, his figures reading 3 for 9 in 3 overs...fantastic in any form of cricket. He ended with figures of 3 for 20. The match looked like slipping away from the Windies, as Jordan bowled an excellent 19th over giving away just 8 runs. England fans were already celebrating, as the match now looked clearly in their pocket. But then this is cricket....a game of fascinating uncertainties.
West Indies now needed 19 runs from the last over, with Ben Stokes coming in to bowl. And then the unbelievable happened. Carlos Braithwaite hit four consecutive sixes, as West Indies won the World Cup T20 2016. It was a script that no one would have dared to think...... in a final, to hit four consecutive sixes in the final over chasing....Braithwaite would be a name in the folklore for Windies. Cometh the hour, cometh the Hero. What a match for him. First with the ball, figures of 3 for just 23 runs & then, with the bat, 34 superb runs off just 10 deliveries. In the group stages, against SA, when he hit Rabada for a mighty six, I thought Rabada bowled poorly, but today's display changed my opinion. This is an excellent lower order bat....someone to be preserved as a match winner.
Samuels was incredible too at the other end, stroking a brilliant 85 unbeaten runs in 66 deliveries. Between the two of them, they had demolished the English. It was so near & yet so far for the men in red.....the English. They have played fascinating cricket through the tournament & created some splendid surprises. They would certainly carry some very good memories for the future.
This was the first time a target in excess of 150 was chased down in a final of World Cup T20.
The Champions dance had started..... definitely a Caribbean resurrection. The first team to win the trophy for the second time. Every match had some one put up a match winning performance. Certainly not a one man team. For a team, which was not sure of playing the tournament, having payment problems with the Board, crucial players dropping out & yet enjoying the game, playing with passion, playing for the love of the game.... Captain Sammy was understandably emotional at the presentation ceremony..... he mentioned about the contributions behind the scene, the coach, the support staff, even the playing jersey getting arranged at the last was indeed fascinating to watch this team. Hopefully, now the West Indian Cricket Board will come to terms with the players & nurture them for the future......much needed support to get back as Champions in all forms of the game....they are wonderful ambassadors of this game cricket, & it will be fascinating to watch the resurgence of this team.
The Man of the Match was Marlon Samuels for holding the innings together for a marvelous 85, the highest run getter in a T20 final till now & taking the team to an incredible victory. He did so in 2012 finals too, when West Indies pulled it away from Sri Lanka. Though according to me, Braithwaite was my man for the day....complete all round performance & then soaking up the pressure to bring up an incredible victory in the final over....four back to back sixes....Wow...take a bow !!!
The Player of the Tournament adjusted was Virat Kohli, for his fabulous performance, though the competition.
Everybody knows, West Indies is the Champion....Champion...Champion.... the song reverberating all across..... their dancing taking centre stage...... & why not.... truly deserving. Maroon is the colour in the World of Cricket for now.....

Congratulations West Indies..... we love to see you in the playing arena.....Calypso Champion...

Thursday, March 31, 2016

World Cup T20 : Semi finals - India vs West Indies

India vs the Windies...always a fiercely contested game.... & when its a semi final knock out becomes that much more competitive. At Wankhade, Mumbai, under the din of a boisterous crowd, Sammy won the toss & elected to obvious choice against the marauding Indian line up. Both team looking pumped up for a place in the finals.
India have made two vital changes, dropping an out of form Dhawan for Rahane & an injured Yuvi for Manish Pandey....both excellent choices under the circumstances. For the Windies, it was Lebdl Simmons in place of an injured Fletcher...a very dangerous player.
A cautious start by India, as both Rohit & Rahane tried to get used to the pitch, which looked a bit sluggish. Rohit hit a clean six in the 3rd over, as India ambled to 15 for no loss. A couple of boundaries in the next over took his score past 20, his highest in the tournament till now.... home ground....hope soaring within the crowd for the local lad. The ball was coming nicely onto the bat, as the score rushed past 50 with Rohit taking the bowlers to the sword. At end of power plays, it was a very healthy 55 for no loss, with Rohit unbeaten with 41 off just 26 deliveries ( 3 sixes & 3 fours), & Rahane keeping good company with a run a ball 12. The best start for India in the tournament thus far, with run rate nudging almost 9. It was looking very good for the Men in Blue.
But it was too good to be true to last, as Rohit went LBW to Badree, as India lost her 1st wicket at 62 runs, in the 8th over, bringing the man in form, Virat Kohli to the crease. The man, on whose strong shoulders, stood the dreams of a billion. The 9th over saw some incredible run out misses by the Windies, that too by Bravo, as Kohli survived & the stadium heaved a sigh of relief.
At the end of 10 overs, it was a healthy 86 for 1, with Rahane playing a sweet cameo & Virat settling in, despite the scare. The platform looked set for a big score ahead.
100 came up in the 13th over, & end of 15th over, it was 127 for 1. Both Kohli & Rahane in their 40s, batting excellently. Just then Rahane holed out to Bravo, right on the ropes, bringing in Captain Dhoni...what else could India ask for at this stage. Kohli completed his half century in the 17th over off just 33 deliveries, with a chip shot over long on, as 150 for the team came on board. Virat just kept swinging & runs kept flowing, as 17 runs came in the 17th over, 11 in the 18th & 19 in the 19th over, & the last over brought 12.... all in all 59 runs in 4 overs. India ended the innings with a solid score of 192 runs. Kohli is in the form of his life, & today must've come with some protection...... Windies should've got him out four times & missed the opportunities unbelievably....including a simple run out chance when he was just at the crease. In the end Virat was unbeaten with 89 outstanding runs of just 47 deliveries & Dhoni kept company with 15 off 9.
In T20 this year Kohli has batted 12 times, with 10 not outs, & 8 half centuries, with strike rate in access of 175. Incredible figures this.
It was a treat to watch Kohli, Rahane & then Dhoni running superbly within wickets, getting those extra runs..all so vital in a pressure game like this. It was fascinating all through.
Windies looked a little rattled & pressurized in the field. Normally a very good fielding unit, they fumbled in crucial moments & gave India the advantage.

They now had an uphill task to climb 193 runs for a win. Gayle would almost certainly have to fire at the top, with crucial contributions form Samuels, Bravo & Russell. Wankhade is a high scoring ground, & it would be an interesting second session to watch. England had chased down 230 runs against SA in the same ground.
Gayle came out with Johnson Charles to start the chase. But Gayle looked tentative despite a boundary in the 1st over, & Bumrah clean bowled him in the 2nd over itself. Next to go was Samuels in the 3rd over...Windies gasping at 19 for 2.... two very very strong wickets gone. Both of them looked strangely uninterested in batting as it was poor shot selection that got them out, rather than good deliveries. Looked like it was curtains for the Windies at this stage. However, Simmons & Charles went about resurrecting the batting, & at end of power plays, it was 44 for 2. Stupidly then, Simmons chased a wide delivery from Ashwin & Bumrah took a splendid catch at wide gully, but Ashwin had overstepped...a no ball. However, Simmons, despite the reprieve could make no use of the free hit, as the score was 51 for 2 at end of 7 overs. Charles went for some lusty hits & at mid way, ie after 10 overs, the Windies were at 84 for 2, needing another 109 runs off 60 deliveries...tough ask. In the 12th over, Charles brought up his 50 & team's 100, as the score reached 104 for 2. A definite above waist delivery by Pandya was not adjusted a no ball, as the whole Windies dug out got up in unison. .... With the score soaring & no wickets in sight, Dhoni brought in Kohli with the ball & he immediately consumed the dangerous Charles, holing up to long on the ropes, caught by Rohit Sharma. Charles had by then put up a splendid 52 off just 36 balls.
15th over was again eventful, with Pandya luring Simmons to get caught out in covers, but he had overstepped. The free hit went for a massive six, taking the score to 138 for 3. The over had costed India 18 runs, as West Indies were sneaking back into the game. Five overs left & 55 runs to get.... match on for sure. 150 came up in the 16th over, with Simmons hitting another six, this time off Bumrah. 18th over again was eventful, as Bumrah first bowled 3 dot balls on the trot. Simmons obviously had to hit out, & Kohli - Jadeja combo caught him on the ropes, but, Jadeja erred in touching the ropes & it turned out to be a six. At end of 18 overs, it was 173 for 3, with 20 needed of 2 overs. Jadeja bowled the 19th over & was excellent till the last two deliveries, where he gave away one six & one four. With just 8 runs needed off the last over Dhoni brought in Kohli, as a last move. But Russell had already measured up, & a boundary & then a six sealed the match for the Windies. They had made their way emphatically into the finals. Simmons was the obvious choice of Man of Match with a fabulous 82 unbeaten runs in 51 deliveries. This was his 1st match of the tournament, & he grabbed the opportunity to display his class. Russell too was unbeaten with 43 off just 20 deliveries, hitting the winning runs.
For Dhoni, it was a loss that would rue him. The score was good enough, & had the bowlers not overstepped, especially on the two occasions, when the batsmen were caught out, India would've won. Dhoni who has been so successful with his last over "phatkas" saw his luck finally run out. He would reach out for the most unexpected bowler & still win the game....but this time a try with Virat failed. Pandya was the man against Bangladesh, earlier in the tournament, & so many times earlier, Dhoni had won the game with his inventive decisions. But today was not to be........
The pressure had caught up with the Windies & thats how Gayle & Samuels got out. But credit to Simmons, Charles & then Russell, not to buckle & score freely, as they got the team past the target.
One would also feel for Virat Kohli....he was in sublime form, & had single handedly taken India to the semis. All the dreams of another cup, revolved around him.

The West Indies showed that they are not a one man team, but actually a lot of quality players in the ranks. They now face a resurgent England in the finals, whom they had hammered in the league game, with Gayle firing a splendid century. This soft spoken, care free dancing, singing team & laughing team, looks a good happy unit, with a lot of belief in their capabilities.
Indeed the finals on Sunday at the Eden Gardens would be a mouth watering contest.

World Cup T 20 - Semi finals - New Zealand vs England

The 1st semifinals of this World Cup between unbeaten thus far New Zealand & a resurgent England at Kotla grounds of New Delhi. The pre match predictions & the heart would have me tilted towards the Kiwis from Down Under, but the metal maths would tilt towards the English.
Morgan won the crucial toss & decided to excellent decision under the circumstances, as they have done very well chasing, especially the one against SA.
Willey opened the bowling as Guptill & Williamson took guard at the stumps. Guptill was his fluid best & 11 runs came of the opening over including two boundaries. But just as the momentum was building up, Guptill gave it away nicking behind & Willey had his revenge...a huge huge wicket for England, as the score read 23 for 1. Next man in Munro launched himself in immediately as the wicket looked placid & full of runs. At the end of powerplays it was 51 for 1....a good platform to launch an all out attack on the bowling, & when the score reached 89 for 1 after 10 overs, the Kiwiws looked good to finish over 180. But that's from where the wheels of fortune started to change. Williamson was consumed by Moeen Ali & shortly afterwards Munro perished to Plunkett, caught at third man for a well made 46. Suddenly the score had slid to 111 for 3 7 England were right back in the game. Middle order batsmen Anderson, Ross Taylor, Ronchi, Elliot, all failed to capitalise with a big score, as Kiwis innings slowed down painfully to end at 153 for 8. They could manage only 20 runs off the last four slog overs, losing 5 wickets. The final score surely looked a good 20 - 25 runs short of a par score. It was a tad disappointing, after such a fine flourish at the top. Given that this was a semi final match, the score was tricky indeed, & New Zealand had defended all their totals till now.

England started the chase with Jason Roy & Alex Hales.....& it called for a blistering start from them. And blistering it was. Roy simply tore into the otherwise reliable Kiwi bowling attack. 17 runs came off the very first over, & England were right on the driver's seat. At the end of the powerplays, it was 67 without loss & only 87 more were required at almost a run a ball. Hales left in the 9th over, but Roy continued to plunder runs at will, as both pace & spin were taken to cleaners. He was finally bowled between the legs by Sodhi in the 13th over, but by then he had bludgeoned a magnificent 78 off just 44 deliveries. Morgan got out in the very next delivery, but Root & Butler continued where Roy had left. In the end, Root was unbeaten at 27 & Butler at 32, as they raced past the target in the 18th over..... it was all too simple for England in the end.
Jason Roy was the obvious Man of the Match. They have now entered the finals & await the winners of India vs West Indies.
Remarkable win this was for England. After the pasting they got in the first match, they have done a fantastic turn around, winning all games from there on.... & winning quite convincingly. The team looks in super nick, with Roy giving some pulsating crack at the top & the Root & Butler & Stokes whipping the middle & end overs. The bowling too looks menacing enough, & they have depth in both the departments. They certainly have surprised me & am sure a lot others with their performances till now.

New Zealand would be left to rue their performance today. One off day & they go out of the competition. They looked good throughout the group stages, but on the day of reckoning, they just fell short.

Monday, March 28, 2016

World Cup T20 : Business End preview

I was out for the last three days, & missed covering the matches.......there was poor connectivity. There have been a few hiccups, & some upsets, as  the tournament has moved into the business end, with semifinal line up clear.... Its now New Zealand vs England in the 1st semis & then, West Indies vs India in the 2nd semis.

Of the four, England is probably the surprise element. They have been playing out of their skin & have been improving with every game. After Chris Gayle century demolished them in the first game, they looked done & dusted. But, credit to their resilience & belief, they scaled the near impossible chase of 230 runs to snatch a miraculous win against South Africa & that brought them right back in the tournament. In Joe Root, they have a breath of fresh air & confidence that rubs into the whole unit. Roy at the top has been giving brilliant starts, & then the bowling as an unit has been delivering. The team is looking good & hungry for more. Under Morgan, the team looks well connected. They certainly are the surprise team in the last four.....very few, even in England would have believed in this success.

Windies have been their mercurial best. They demolished, England first, then toppled South Africa & Sri Lanka, only to take things easy & lose to minnows Afghanistan. That too, after restricting them to 123 runs. Typical Caribbean, always brimming with laughter, fun & frolic. Playing with disdain & clobbering opponents at will. This team is combining well, despite absence of Narine & Pollard. Badree & Benn have been managing the spin very well & Gayle, Samuels, Bravo, Fletcher, all have contributed handsomely  with the bat. Even Braithwaite hitting Rabada for a six in the chase against South Africa in a tight game, was testimony to their capabilities to pull the rabbit out & win crunch situations. They now take on a resurgent India, the hosts. This will be their biggest challenge thus far in the tournament, as India is now looking very good, after their majestic win over the Aussies to clinch the final berth in the last four.

New Zealand, have been the proverbial underdogs. They have come up as a super unit, winning all their games....defeating heavyweights like India, Pakistan & Australia with ease. They have defended their totals well & the surprise element has been their spin department, which has blossomed in this tournament. Williamson has been inventive in his captaincy, & every member of the playing eleven has contributed. It has been a team game all through. They take on England, which has managed upsets to earn their berth in the last four & would be a tough side to compete against. However, both the teams play keeping emotions aside, & that could give a completely new dimension to the contest. The 1st semis between these two teams could be a tall scoring affair.

India, were the pre tournament favourites, but after their upset loss to the Kiwis in the very first game, there was immense pressure on the Men in Blue. The next match against arch rivals Pakistan was an acid test in Kolkata, which they crossed over convincingly in the end, thanks to Virat & his run chasing abilities. But then, against Bangladesh, they almost lost the plot & the game, but the it was Bangladesh who lost nerve & basics to lose from the brinks of victory....something that will rankle them for a long time to come. India, buoyed by this victory went on to finally demolish the Aussies, in a run chase that will etch in the memory of all Indian fans for generations. It was a Virat show again, as he lynched the hapless Aussie bowling in a phenomenal batting display, as India booked the last slot for the semis.

I feel sorry for the South African team. Such a talented bunch, full of match winners, but breaking down in crunch situations. Their bowling has been extremely poor in this tournament & has let them down right through the tournament. They could not defend even a total of 230 against England, & they lost the plot in their campaign. Even against minnows Afghanistan, they struggled to defend a 200 + score, & then, against West Indies, they could not defend. Rabada, their prime pacer looked out of sorts, bowling without any plan or discipline, & Steyn was a sorry shadow of his prime. The South Africans probably need to work on their mental abilities as a team and find a way to confort in pressure situations. The team certainly deserves better accolades & performances in ICC tournaments.... the big stage.
Sri Lanka, the defending champions were a depleted side this time & but for some individual performances, there wa little to reckon with. Hopefully, they will return in the next edition with better performances. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

World Cup T20 : India vs Australia

A crucial match this at Mohali....a virtual quarterfinals....the winner goes through to the semis.
There have been a quite a few ups & downs over the last two days, & as we enter the business of the tournament, the billion plus India fans would be hoping for a favourable results.

Having won the toss, Smith, chose to bat interesting decision....good to put up runs upfront & then put pressure, but, also the fact that India are better in chases, with Virat, having an awesome record while chasing. The pitch looks good for batting, & maybe that must have inspired Smith, with the decision. Dhoni too was happy at the toss, as he too wanted to field.
Khawaja & Finch in first, with Nehra taking the ball..... first ball dispatched to the cover boundary, but Nehra coming back strong by beating Khawaja with variation in the rest of the over. The ball clearly assisting swing & bounce. Bumrah on the other end, came for some stick getting hit for 4 boundaries by Khawaja.....match on. Nehra too, was hit for a couple of boundaries in his next over, as the Aussies raced to 31 in 3 overs. Ashwin came in next, & got clouted for 2 sixes over long on by Finch giving away 21 runs. Fifty for Australia up in the 4th over. Something had to give in & Nehra bowling the 5th over, had Finch survive a skier, but Khawaja, got out caught behind in the next delivery..... the crowd going berserk. The over cost only two runs & got a wicket for India... super stuff, in a pressure cooker situation. Bumrah in for the 6th over, too bowled with inspiration, giving away just 4 was 59 for 1 after power plays......Aussies a shade ahead at this stage. Jadeja too looked sharp in his first over giving just 5 runs. Ashwin back in the attack was still struggling for the right length, & went for a boundary, but he beat Warner for an easy stumping, & India were back in the game.... it was 73 for 2 at the end of 8th over. Yuvi in the 10th over had Smith caught behind to a thin edge off the first ball, & India were looking solid.....74 for 3....end of 10 overs, 81 for 3, as the run rate came sliding down to under eight ( at the beginning it was going over 10). Big Max Maxwell in..... he can decimate any attack on his Dhoni brought in Pandya. It was 93 for 3 after 12 overs...with boundaries having dried out.... 28 deliveries since the last one, as India seemed to be slowly fighting back into the game. 100 came in the 13th over, when finally Finch smashed a mid wicket boundary..... but the very next delivery had him holed out in the deep, as Dhawan pocketed the catch. A set batsman gone for the Aussies....Finch making a sedate 43 off 34 balls. the first 50 runs came in just 22 deliveries, but the next one took 56 balls. At the end of 15 overs it was 114 for 4...the final slog overs coming up, with Maxwell & Watson trying to settle down.
Maxwell, hit a reverse six & a boundary off Jadeja, but got bowled out to Bumrah, just as he was beginning to look dangerous. It was 130 for 5. Next man, Faulkner holed out in the deep for just 10 runs, & Aussies ended their innings for 160 for 6. Nevill  got only two deliveries to bat & hit a boundary & then a six off the last ball, to gather 15 runs in the last over. A decent score, but certainly much lesser than it seemed after the power plays. India should be happy at this stage, to pull back things.

So much would depend on Virat's bat, as India begin their chase.
Rohit & Dhawan started, as Dhwan launched into Hazelwood, hitting a four & then a fabulously pulled six over midwicket..... at end of 3 overs, India were going merry at 18 for no loss. But Dhawan as his usual self got more adventurous & top edged a Coulter Nile delivery to be caught by Khawaja, as India lost her 1st wicket at 23 for 1, bringing in the key Virat Kohli in. In superb nick, he immediately dispatched two boundaries to settle the nerves in the dug out. But Rohit lost his cool & wicket, getting bowled out to Watson in the 6th over, as India started to limp at 37 for 2 at the end of power plays. Raina in next started shaky, but was settling well, but once again, needlessly went after a wide bouncer from Watson & top edged to the keeper, to leave India gasping at 49 for 3. Yuvi in next to join Virat, looked charged for the occasion as India reached 50 for 3 in 8 overs. But he got an edgy boundary & then started to limp for a serious pain...hamstring ???, medics rushed to the ground. This would certainly hurt the running between wickets, Strappings did reduce the pain for a while, as end of 10 overs India reached 65 for 3. Meanwhile, Virat hit a well judged six of Maxwell as 12 runs came off the 12th over. Yuvi too hit a loose delivery for six off Zampa to release the pressure building up. Finally however, Yuvi departed for a well made 21 off 18 balls, as Watson took a super diving catch to get rid of him in the 14th over. They both had added crucial 45 runs in 6.2 overs. Dhoni in next, with the run rate creeping up beyond 11. Both Dhoni & Virat, excellent in running between wickets, it was expected that India will up the ante, & they did, running hard to reach the total to 114 for 4 in 16 overs. It was now, 47 runs required off 24 deliveries. Match on for sure. Kohli, meanwhile reached his 50 off just 39 deliveries, as India reached 122 runs at end of 17th over. Then, Kohli at his imperious best, blasted Faulkner all over the park for 19 priceless runs, as India now looked in control as the score read 141 runs....just 20 to get. Both of them had already added 47 runs in just 4 overs. Kohli then took on Coulter Nile for 4 boundaries, as runs was a magnificent show with the bat. Only 4 runs needed in the last over, as Dhoni hit the winning boundary as usual, in the 1st ball itself. What a win for India, as everybody watching the game were treated to a fascinating display of batsmanship. Kohli remained unbeaten with 82 priceless runs off just 51 balls, as Dhoni hit 18 runs off just 10....both had eventually added 67 runs in just 5.1 overs. Smith would be left to rue his decision of batting first & falling short by some 15 - 20 runs. Virat maintained his incredible record of successful India coast into the semis. Absolutely surreal.
For the Aussies, it was once again, a stumble in this format....& for Watson, what a wonderful final game, as he announced his retirement.....a wonderful player & an ambassador for the game. 
As Virat said at the presentations that he would rank this innings at the top, as he came to take the Man of Match award. 
It would now be against the marauding Windies, the dark horse of the tournament. 

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