INDIA IN SEMIFINAL
With 67 needed off the last six overs, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni joined hands in what was turning out to be a tricky chase. The match had meandered on till then, swinging one way and another.
Australia had a fantastic start with the bat, before India pulled things back, they had a rousing finish but India had a brisk start as well. India’s chase was motoring along satisfactorily before Yuvraj Singh’s injury applied the brakes on it. Through it all, India were facing the heat and it was showing. There were angry gesticulations all the while, Kohli was getting increasingly frustrated in a 38-ball stand with Yuvraj during which many a double was missed.
But all that mattered for little when these two joined hands. Not for nothing are they regarded as two of India’s best chasers in history. But even Kohli was feeling the heat at that point. What followed, however, was a masterclass of running between the wickets and of chasing down a target.
A critical point of their partnership was the obvious intensity with which both of them ran the second run (six in all) apart from hitting the boundaries. That relieved the pressure on Kohli, who then went on a boundary-rampage, even as the asking-rate was over 10 runs per over.
At the end of it all, as Dhoni finished with a boundary through mid-wicket, an exhausted Kohli just dropped to his knees. This was probably his most tiring knock. He slammed 82 (off 51 balls) and battled exhaustion. India had managed to clinch the crunch game against Australia to enter the semifinal of the ICC World T20 2016 with a six-wicket win at the Punjab Cricket Association Ground in Mohali.
If the finish was an exhilarating one, Australia’s start with the bat was not inferior. They opted to bat on a pitch that had a greenish tinge to it. Both teams went in unchanged and Steven Smith had the luck with the spin of the coin. In opting to bat, Smith echoed Dhoni’s reading of the pitch as well. Both captains reckoned that the pitch would slow down as the game progressed.
It was a 40-over pitch after all, and they weren’t wrong in the reading. It did slow down even as Australia’s innings progressed but for the first few overs, Australia seemed to be running away with the game. Usman Khawaja reeled off a series of pulled boundaries as Jasprit Bumrah was clobbered for 17 runs in his first over, the second of the in- nings. And as is the norm these days, Dhoni had to turn to his go-to man in such situations - Ravichandran Ashwin. Many a time, the offspinner has bailed the team out from a weak start by picking wickets, but today was different. Aaron Finch, the man who was dropped for Australia’s first two games, took it upon himself to take on Ashwin, and did it splendidly well. His powerful shots over long on saw Ashwin conceding back-to-back sixes in an over that cost him 22 runs.