At one stage in Mohali, it seemed India’s World T20 campaign would come to an end, as they stumbled to 94 for 4 in the 14th over chasing a tough 161. But, that man of steel Virat Kohli once again stood firm and took India over the line. Kohli maintained his cool even when Yuvraj Singh got injured at a crucial stage of the innings. But, he ended up smashing an incredible 82 from 51 balls with the aid of 9 fours and two sixes. Yuvraj (21) and MS Dhoni (18 not out) also played key roles as India recovered from a poor start to dump Australia out of the World T20.
Kohli had hung around to reach a subdued 50 from 40 balls. But, with 39 needed from 18, he took on the dangerous James Faulkner, and came out on top. Kohli began by pulling a short ball in front of deep backward square leg for four. He then guided a yorker past the diving fielder in the deep. Next ball, he came down the track and launched the bowler over the wide long off boundary. 19 came off that over, and the momentum shifted India’s way significantly. Kohli got three more fours off Nathan Coulter-Nile, before Dhoni finished off the game blazing Faulkner through wide long-on.
India again got off to a poor start, with Shikhar Dhawan hitting a short ball straight up in the air, and Rohit Sharma failing to slog his way out of trouble. Suresh Raina again fell to the short ball, and things got worse for India when Yuvraj twisted his ankle. But, he still managed a four and a six and featured in a 45-run stand for the fourth wicket, which gave India some sort of platform. Kohli did the rest, playing the big shots, and finding the gaps to perfection.
Earlier, having won the toss and deciding to bat first, Australia got off to a rollicking start as the opening pair of Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch added 54 in just 4.2 overs, taking the Indian bowlers to the cleaners. India fought back very well in the middle overs as their bowlers pulled things back with constant wickets. From 54 for 1, Australia lost their way to some extent, and found themselves at 130 for 5 in the 17th over, when the big-hitting Glenn Maxwell was sent back. But, Shane Watson and Peter Nevill combined to get some key boundaries in the last couple of overs as Australia ended exactly on 160.
Khawaja was in his elements right from the start, pulling a short ball from Ashish Nehra for a four through square leg first ball. Like in the last match, Jasprit Bumrah was again taken on by a left hander, Khawaja. Four boundaries came in the second over, one lofted over midwicket, another over mid-on, and the third in a row behind square leg. The over ended with a boundary coming through short third man, as Khawaja cut one late. Nehra’s next over went for a couple of fours, as Australia got 31 in their first 3 overs.
MS Dhoni was forced to go to Ravichandran Ashwin, but Finch took him on and launched him for sixes over long-on. The harried off-spinner responded with five wides down the leg. It required a brave pitched up ball from Nehra to find Khawaja’s edge. Ashwin then left David Warner stranded down the pitch with one that left him. Yuvraj Singh got a big wicket first ball as a quick ball beat skipper Steven Smith. It wasn’t clear whether there was an edge or not. Glenn Maxwell hit a couple of big blows before perishing for 31. James Faulkner struggled, but Peter Nevill finished off the innings perfectly, with a scooped four and a lofted six off the last ball bowled by Hardik Pandya.
--By A Cricket Correspondent