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February 15, 2006
India 292 for 4 (Pujara 129*, Sharma 59) beat England 58 (Ahmed 4-14) by 234 runs
Before this match Venkatesh Prasad, the Indian coach, told his team to be ruthless. They obviously listened. Their performance at the Premadasa Stadium, in the first Super League semi-final, was as close to perfection as is possible. The batsmen, led by Cheteshwar Pujara's unbeaten 129, put the England attack to the sword, then the new-ball attack of Vijaykumar Yomahesh and Abu Nechim Ahmed tore the batting to shreds as they crashed to a humiliating 58 - comfortably their lowest score at this level.
England's bowlers have kept them in the tournament with a series of impressive performances, but tonight they came up against a high-class line-up who showed no mercy. Pujara and Gaurav Dhiman made an effort to attack the spinners when they were thrown into action early and, apart from a brief period when they claimed two quick wickets, the onslaught was relentless.
But the pasting handed out to the bowlers was nothing to the demolition job performed to seal the win. Yomahesh and Ahmed bowled with genuine venom and extracted disconcerting bounce from a good length. They made the most of a horrid 20-minute period that the England openers had to face before the interval - a rule that clearly penalises a side that bowls their overs quickly - and knocked the top off the order in five fiery overs.
Varun Chopra and Mark Stoneman were both cleaned-up by beauties from Ahmed, who nipped the ball off the seam at pace, although the batsmen were caught on the crease, while Mark Nelson fenced limply to gully off Yomahesh. And tea did nothing to slow them down; when Moeen Ali flashed to slip, he cut a forlorn figure trudging back to the pavilion. A mauling like this will take some time to get over, especially as it has come in a semi-final.
Venkatesh Prasad, India's coach, was thrilled with the stunning display: "It was an unbelievable result, we never thought the game was going to be so one-sided as we had great respect for England. We didn't want to falter in any aspect of the game, whether it was batting in partnerships, bowling or the fielding, which I thought was outstanding. We didn't want to leave the job for others and the boys stuck to their word today."
Ali was blunt in his assessment of the team's collapse: "We lacked pride today. We weren't focused enough. It didn't look as though we wanted to be out there. I think after the Bangladesh result I think we almost expected to do well. We didn't expect India to be so good."
The day started to go wrong for Ali as soon as he lost the toss which meant that, when Dhiman laid into the new ball, he was forced to bring in Nick James, his Supersub, into action as early as the ninth over. But the control that had been evident throughout the tournament disserted most of the attack - with the exception of Graeme White.
Pujara made the most of being dropped at slip by Chopra when he had made just a single and this knock continued his fine World Cup form: before today he was averaging 110 from four matches. His century arrived in 135 balls, then he found a second wind and tore into the final over of the innings from Huw Waters which cost a mammoth 25 runs.
Rohit Sharma was the aggressor in a second-wicket stand of 112, which put India on course for their imposing total and a late flurry form Maynak Tehlan and Ravindra Jadeja punished England in the closing overs.
Dhiman had launched the innings with 18 off the fourth over, and although his aggression eventually got the better of him, India had a solid platform. England threatened to hold then to around 270 at one stage but it wouldn't have matter a jot. However, they will have felt chasing 293 was not impossible; almost before they could blink it was 22 for 6 and reaching 50 was a milestone.
India deserve immense credit for their performance. After starting poorly in the warm-up matches they have found their feet and form when it matters. They have star quality in the batting and bowling. Whether it is Australia or Pakistan in the final they will give either a tough test - and that is what a World Cup final is all about.
How they were out
Varun Chopra b Ahmed 2 (3 for 1)
Beaten by one that nipped back
Mark Stoneman b Ahmed 2 (12 for 2)
Caught on the crease, lack of footwork
Mark Nelson c Das b Yomahesh 6 (12 for 3)
Drove limply to gully
Rory Hamilton-Brown c Shah b Ahmed 1 (13 for 4)
Top-edged pull, keeper ran round
Moeen Ali c Ravikant Shukla b Ahmed 4 (17 for 5)
Thick edge to first slip
Ben Wright c Das b Yomahesh 2 (22 for 6)
Stunning catch in the gully from powerful drive
Nick James c Ravikant Shukla b Chawla 5 (35 for 7)
Edged to slip
Steve Mullaney c Tehlan b Dhiman 7 (38 for 8)
Top-edge swipe to midwicket
John Simpson lbw Bipinbhai 1 (49 for 9)
Offspinner beat him with a quicker ball
Graeme White st Shah b Bipinbhai 17 (58 all out)
Beaten by the doosra, back foot just out
Gaurav Dhiman c Hamilton-Brown b White 48 (72 for 1)
Toe-ended a sweep, mid-on held smart catch diving full-length
Rohit Sharma run out (Waters) 59 (184 for 2)
Wanted a second to deep square-leg, sent back with no chance
Ravikant Shukla c Nelson b James 3 (189 for 3)
Well held by long-off running in
Maynak Tehlan b James 43 (243 for 4)
Missed a swing to leg
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of CricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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