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51st Match, Super Eights, Group 1, Gros Islet, June 24, 2024, ICC Men's T20 World Cup
(20 ov, T:206) 181/7

India won by 24 runs

Player Of The Match
92 (41)
Cricinfo's MVP
146.53 ptsImpact List

Rohit powers India into semis; Australia's hopes take a hit

India will play England in the second semi-final in Guyana after winning all three of their Super Eight games

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
India 205 for 5 (Rohit 92, Hazlewood 1-14) beat Australia 181 for 7 (Head 76, Arshdeep 3-37, Kuldeep 2-24) by 24 runs
Rohit Sharma is the reason India are in the T20 World Cup 2024 semi-finals. He was sublime. But then again he has been for a long time, simply with his commitment to an attacking game at personal cost. It deserves credit but until now it's come in intangible form. Perhaps in five days' time, it will take the shape of an ICC trophy.
On a sunny morning in St Lucia, India's captain scored 76 of his 92 runs in boundaries and left Australia with nowhere to hide. He even prompted them into mistakes. A total of 205 built on a series of broken records proved too much. It even offered insulation against Travis Head and that, in recent times, has been so rare it's almost unheard of. Australia may yet make the final four, but they need Bangladesh to do them a favour and beat Afghanistan (by non-colossal margins) in St Vincent later on Monday.

Rohit's rampage

On November 19, he was supposed to lead his team to glory but instead walked away with tears in his eyes. On June 24, he had reason to believe all that hurt might rise up again when his opening partner and world-beating bestie Virat Kohli fell for a duck. Some might have taken a backward step. Rohit took Mitchell Starc for 29 runs in an over instead. He was 50 off 19 in the fifth over. The other end had contributed 2 off 13. India's 52 was the lowest score at which an individual player had brought up a half-century in T20Is where ball-by-ball data is available. Rohit was not playing.

Pitch it up and get punished

Australia, though, played right into Rohit's hands. Starc, for example, kept going full. It's his one job. Try to find swing. Try to break stumps. But at the Daren Sammy Stadium, that was the wrong length. Josh Hazlewood showed the way there. He pitched up only two times in his entire spell and those were yorkers. Every other ball was on a length or just short of it and he came away with figures of 1 for 14. Rohit was invited to play his front-foot shots 24 times and he scored 71 runs, including seven of his eight sixes and five of his seven fours.

Rohit's shots

Six of the 11 overs that Rohit was out there for went for double-digits. He was batting like he does in ODI cricket, when he's 200 not out. Going down on one knee and slog sweeping Pat Cummins, who came into this game with back-to-back hat-tricks, for a six that thudded onto the roof of the stadium. Coming down the track like water flowing down a cliff - so devastatingly smooth - to smack Marcus Stoinis on the up over extra cover. Trying a version of the scoop but ending up with a version of the pull - new addition to the playlist. Bottom line was everything he was doing was working for him. Even a defensive push to cover had such an aura behind it that Australia ended up misfielding and giving up a second run.

Starc's recovery

India scored 10 fours and 10 sixes while Rohit was at the crease. After he fell, they could manage only nine combined. Starc deserves credit for that. He came back in the 12th over, shifted his angle around the wicket to deny Rohit the freedom of his arms, and although he still went full, this time he took pace off and that made enough of a difference. The bat couldn't touch ball and the stumps lay broken. Starc's slower delivery took out Suryakumar Yadav too, right in the middle of a masterclass of his own, scoring his runs in a way that don't always make sense. Cummins, once again, was the unlucky recipient as a ball that was close to the wide line ended up with a home on the square-leg boundary.
India went 21 deliveries without a boundary between the 15th and 18th overs but they still managed a finishing kick as Hardik Pandya nailed three sixes in the final two overs to push the total past 200.

Head start

David Warner fell in the first over of the chase and now there is risk that his 6 off 6 might be his last international outing. Australia still had batters capable of dictating terms out there though. Mitchell Marsh took the wicket-taker Arshdeep Singh for two fours and a six in an over and Head did even better by hitting Jasprit Bumrah off the length he likes to bowl with the new ball. That made the India quick turn to plan B - yorkers - and under pressure even he missed one and bowled a full toss. Australia finished the powerplay at 65 for 1, five runs better than India. Marsh's power game and Head's incredible skill at clearing his front leg and somehow opening vast swathes of the outfield on both sides had flipped the script.

Axar's sensational catch

India needed something special and it arrived in the form of Axar Patel. He was a few yards off the fence at deep square leg, which seemed like an error considering it was Marsh on strike. The slog sweep flew off his bat. Flat. Hard. Destined to go for six. A support staff member was even ducking for cover fearing it would beat the fielder. But Axar didn't let it. He leapt up, went for it with both hands, and got it with just his right. It was one of those that had to stick and it did. Every last one of his team-mates ran up to him to celebrate that wicket. Against the run of play, a partnership of 81 off 48 was broken.

Kuldeep's intervention

Glenn Maxwell was busy negating the advantage India had thanks to the quality of their spinners. He saw that Ravindra Jadeja had no one on the boundary at third man and for that reason alone he went reverse sweep, which meant he was hitting with the turn, but against the wind, which when it was strong enough to basically carry Hardik away as he was running in to bowl, posed a significant problem. Maxwell's wrists somehow overcame that. He was looking dangerous. Maybe enough to take on Kuldeep Yadav. So he charged at India's wristspinner, and got bowled. That googly should be framed up on a wall somewhere. It messed with Maxwell on so many levels. It was slower than he wanted it to be. It was shorter than he needed it to be. It turned the exact opposite way. And it left his stumps a mess. The dip on that ball was everything.
India struck twice in the three overs that followed, one of which was Bumrah foxing Head with his offcutter. Needing 53 from the last 18, the best Australia could do was reduce the margin of defeat.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Win Probability
IND 100%
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Over 20 • AUS 181/7

India won by 24 runs
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