Shikhar Dhawan's brilliant century gave India a brilliant 36-run win against Australia in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 clash at the Oval. (Image credit: Twitter)
About 20 years ago, India had tasted heartbreak during the 1999 World Cup clash against Australia after a 77-run loss ended their semi-final hopes at the Oval. In 2019, at the same venue, the tables were turned spectacularly. Shikhar Dhawan blasted his 17th century, Rohit Sharma went past 2000 runs against Australia, Virat Kohli scored a half-century of fifties. MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul provided the end overs blitz as India reached 352/5, the highest-ever score made against Australia in World Cups. The Indian bowlers held their nerve and exacted revenge by registering a 36-run win for their second straight victory in the ICC Cricket World Cup on Sunday. With this loss, Australia's 10-match winning streak came to an end.
India started off slowly, consolidated in the middle overs and then exploded towards the end. A target of 353 has never been chased in the history of the World Cup and Australia had to start in an explosive manner. However, Australia followed India’s template and they were always playing catch-up. David Warner and Aaron Finch started off cautiously and after nine overs, they were 29/0. The powerplay ended well as Warner slammed a four off Hardik Pandya but Finch got going with two fours and a six in the same over.
India broke the partnership thanks to a run-out as Kedar Jadhav’s accurate throw from deep midwicket resulted in Finch being run-out for 36. That brought in Steve Smith and Warner together, the dup who were caught in a storm about a year ago. Both batsmen looked to stabilise the innings but Warner seemed bogged down. The left-hander reached a fifty but was striking in the high 70s. Smith, on the other hand, took full toll on Jadhav as he smashed him for a six and a four. The run-rate pressure took a toll on Warner who mistimed the slog sweep off Yuzvendra Chahal and holed out to deep midwicket.
Usman Khawaja, who had played a starring role in the India series, stitched yet another gritty stand with Smith who scored his second fifty in the tournament. Khawaja also looked good for a fifty by smashing Kuldeep Yadav for a six and a four but once he fell to Bumrah, the pressure was on. Glenn Maxwell and Smith smashed a flurry of boundaries and the match was evenly poised.
That was when Bhuvneshwar decided to change the course of the game. He removed Smith with an off-cutter and took the review successfully and cleaned up Marcus Stoinis. When Maxwell fell to Chahal, the game was up. Alex Carey fought bravely and he reached a fifty off 25 balls with some attractive hits but Australia fell short. In hindsight, the game was up when India had posted a total in excess of 350, presenting Australia a mountain to climb.
Dhawan century boosts India
India won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first. Both Rohit and Dhawan started slowly. The pressure of the early overs was released when Dhawan slammed three boundaries off Nathan Coulter-Nile in the eighth over. The first boundary was a drive straight down the ground, the second was a cut shot to the deep cover fence while the third was a late-cut to the third man fence. Both Rohit and Dhawan stitched the highest opening stand in World Cups for India against Australia and he notched up his fifty off just 53 balls.
Rohit became the fourth player to score 2000 runs in ODIs against Australia. Sachin Tendulkar is the leading run-getter with 3077 runs at an average of 44.57 with nine centuries. With Shikhar Dhawan batting aggressively, Rohit was content on playing second fiddle. The batsman pushed legspinner Adam Zampa to long off for a single and he became the fastest to 2000 runs against Australia, achieving the feat in just his 37th game.
After going past the landmark, Dhawan pounced on Stoinis by smashing two consecutive boundaries and despite losing Rohit for 57, Dhawan continued his aggression. He blasted two fours off legspinner Adam Zampa and got near to his century by getting an under-edge to a short ball from Pat Cummins as he attempted the upper-cut again. The left-hander raced through the 90s by pulling Zampa to the deep square leg fence and he reached the landmark in dramatic fashion. The left-hander pushed a full ball from Marcus Stoinis to the mid-off region and looked for a single but sent Virat Kohli back half-way down the pitch to register his fourth ton against Australia.
Although Dhawan fell for 117, Virat Kohli joined in the fun as he blasted his 50th fifty in ODIs. The Indian cricket team skipper notched up his landmark by working offspinner Glenn Maxwell to the deep midwicket fence for a single. Kohli built upon the efforts of Dhawan and Rohit. He was well assisted by Pandya, who smashed a blazing 48 and ensured India had a massive total. MS Dhoni and KL Rahul struck some big blows and it ensured India had erased the pain of so many World Cup defeats against the five-time champions in grand style.