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September 28, 2012
Australia 141 for 1 (Watson 72, Warner 63*) beat India 140 for 7 (Pathan 31, Watson 3-34) by 9 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Australia's captain George Bailey doesn't think his side is over-dependent on Shane Watson. Who'd be able to tell? Watson has hardly given any of his team-mates a chance so far in this tournament, and that continued in Australia's first Super Eights match as they crushed India by nine wickets in Colombo. To be fair, David Warner was also outstanding and Pat Cummins played a key role with the ball. But Watson was again the stand-out performer, as he has been in all of Australia's matches in the World Twenty20.
Chasing 141, the Australians reached their target with 31 balls to spare. India's decision to pick three spinners - Virender Sehwag was left out to accommodate a fifth bowler - did not work, although there was little distinction between the slow bowlers and the fast men. They were all monstered by Watson and Warner. Yuvraj Singh picked up the only wicket, when Watson drove to cover with eight runs still needed and it meant India narrowly avoided their first ten-wicket defeat in a T20.
Watson had made 72 from 42 deliveries with two fours and seven sixes. He cleared the boundary straight down the ground, over midwicket and over square leg. A pair of enormous consecutive sixes pulled over midwicket off Irfan Pathan showed Watson's power, but also highlighted India's poor bowling. Short balls on the leg side to Watson made about as much sense as dropping Sehwag.
In slightly slippery conditions the spinners also failed to have any impact and were routinely dispatched by both Watson and Warner, whose 133-run partnership was their second century stand in a T20 international this month, and the Australian record for any wicket. Warner muscled three sixes of his own, including two in a row off Harbhajan Singh, whose two overs cost 20 runs. Rare though it may be, Warner was the quiet partner.
He still managed 63 not out from 41 deliveries, striking seven fours and playing a key role in demoralising India early in the chase. They remained disheartened throughout the innings, and the comprehensive nature of the result will make it hard for them to drag themselves back into form for their next match. But they must do so to have any chance of progressing to the semi-finals. And to do that, they need not only to bowl much better, but to bat with more conviction as well.
Their batsmen struggled for firepower and stammered to 140 for 7, which seemed like just a moderately competitive total. That India managed only two sixes said a lot about their performance. Cummins was especially difficult for the batsmen to score from and his pace and accuracy brought him 2 for 16 from his four overs, while Watson picked up 3 for 34 and jumped to the top of the wicket tally for the tournament, with eight from three games.
A few late boundaries from R Ashwin and Suresh Raina helped India push their total up but at no point did their batsmen dominate. Gautam Gambhir picked up a few early boundaries before he was run out for 17 from 12 deliveries, the victim of a fine piece of footwork from the bowler Cummins, who soccered the ball onto the stumps at the striker's end in his follow through.
Pathan and Virat Kohli added 35 for the second wicket before Kohli top-edged Cummins and was caught for 15, and Yuvraj Singh (8) also succumbed to a top-edge when he was taken at deep midwicket off Watson's bowling. Watson struck again in the same over when Pathan (31) chipped to midwicket and things didn't get better for India any time soon.
Rohit Sharma was done in by the angle from around the wicket of the left-armer Mitchell Starc, who bowled him for 1, and at 74 for 5 India were in trouble. Dhoni and Raina steadied with a 30-run partnership but neither man really went on the attack and a build-up of pressure from the Australians eventually brought the end for Dhoni, who drove Cummins to cover for 15.
Ashwin clubbed Starc over midwicket for six and Raina found the boundary twice in the last over from Watson before he holed out to long-off. They at least gave India's bowlers something to defend, but the way India bowled and the way Watson and Warner batted, Australia could have chased down 200. Australia will now enter their second Super Eights match against South Africa full of confidence. And maybe someone other than Watson will get a go next time.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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