India convincingly ended Australia’s 10-match winning streak and underlined its Cricket World Cup title ambitions in a 36-run victory at the Oval on Sunday.
The teams evenly split eight one-day internationals this year but India openly admitted it was preparing for the World Cup, and showed how brilliant its planning was by dominating the defending champion all over the park.
India chose to bat first in front of an Oval ringed in blue shirts, and paced its innings superbly, starting slowly and finishing in a rush to make 352-5. Shikhar Dhawan hit his third World Cup century, 117, and combined in an opening stand of 127 with Rohit Sharma. Captain Virat Kohli added 82.
After conceding its most runs ever at a World Cup, Australia’s chase was unhurried and never got out of third gear. Half-centuries by Steve Smith (69), David Warner (56) and Alex Carey (55 not out) couldn’t disguise an underwhelming game plan. They were all out for 316 on the last ball.
The same XI which beat Afghanistan and the West Indies didn’t threaten to make the match a contest, and was flattered to get within 36 runs of India.
The teams are good enough to meet again in the playoffs, but an impressive India will take all of the encouragement from only its fourth win over the Australians in 12 World Cup matchups.
The scoreboard pressure Kohli wanted to create and achieved got to Australia counterpart Aaron Finch, going for a second run and being run out easily while on 36 from 35 balls.
Fellow opener Warner was also slow. Even with Smith as a partner, they reached the 20th over still under 5 an over and already needing 8.
Warner’s 50 was his slowest yet in ODIs, off 77 balls, only three days after his previous slowest, off 74 against Afghanistan. He was out caught in the deep trying to up the pace.
The longer Smith was in, the better Australia’s chances. But he was out in the 40th over, plumb lbw to Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 69 off 70 balls.
Australia needed 115 off the last 10 overs to win. India hit 116 off the last 10 overs. Australia never looked like doing it, or going for it, as it scored only what India seemed to allow it.
Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah evenly shared six wickets after watching their batsmen set up the victory.
Sharma and Dhawan’s 16th century stand in ODIs tied for second in history with Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden, and behind only the 21 of Sourav Ganguly and Tendulkar, who was in attendance. Sharma ended the partnership on 127, fishing at a Coulter-Nile riser and giving a catch behind. After his unbeaten century against South Africa, he anchored again with 57.
(With Agency Inputs)