India seal semi-final spot as Rohit Sharma inspires crunch win over Australia

Sports Monday 24/June/2024 22:30 PM
India seal semi-final spot as Rohit Sharma inspires crunch win over Australia

Australia fell short in their attempted chase of 206, after Rohit Sharma (92) had starred with the bat for India to set up a huge total in Gros Islet.

Travis Head threatened to pull off a remarkable rescue as he hit 76 from 43 balls, but he fell to Jasprit Bumrah in the 17th over and Australia’s hopes of winning went with him, as their chase fizzled out.

Arshdeep Singh picked up 3/37 from 4 overs, while Axar Patel (1/21 from 3) and Kuldeep Yadav (2/24 from 4) helped tie things up through the middle overs after Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja had been on the receiving end of Head’s blitz.

Afghanistan could now qualify at the expense of the reigning World Test Champions and Cricket World Cup Champions should they beat Bangladesh in the final game in Group 1.

Earlier, India captain Rohit came roaring out of the traps at the top of the order, making mincemeat of the Australian attack as he hit eight sixes and seven fours in a blistering 92(41), falling narrowly short of a record-breaking century.

Suryakumar Yadav (31 from 16), Shivam Dube (28 from 22) and Hardik Pandya (27* from 17*) were the other major contributors as India reached 205/5 in their 20 overs, with Josh Hazlewood comfortably the pick of the bowlers with 1/14 and an economy rate of 3.50 – the only Australian bowler with single-figure economy across the innings.

The story of India’s 205/5

Australia won the toss and opted to bowl first at Gros Islet in Saint Lucia, with Mitchell Starc returning to the side in place of Ashton Agar. India named an unchanged XI from their two previous Super Eight matches.

It was Australia who struck the first blow in the game as Virat Kohli skied Josh Hazlewood to Tim David in the deep to depart without troubling the scorers.

But Kohli's opening partner Rohit Sharma made an enormous early impact, slamming 29 runs off a single Mitchell Starc to set a blistering pace in the powerplay.

And Rohit brought up his half-century off just 19 deliveries, the fastest of the tournament so far, with all-but two of India's runs having come off his bat as he reached the milestone.

India's captain looked on course for a record century, but finally fell when Starc was reintroduced to the attack and cleaned him up for 92 from 41 balls.

Rishabh Pant had played a support role in his 15 (14), but Suryakumar Yadav added a fresh acceleration with his fiery 31 (16) before he edged behind off Starc.

Australia did manage to bring the scoring back slightly under control, with Hazlewood largely responsible with his spell of 1/14 in four overs – remarkable figures in the context of the game.

But, after Shivan Dube departed for 28(22), Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja provided some late gloss with 27*(17) and 9*(5) to send India past 200 to set a daunting target.

Travis Head threatens a miracle

India got off to a terrific start when David Warner departed for a run-a-ball six in what could well be his final international appearance for Australia after a glittering career.

Australia recovered well though and were up with the required rate for long parts of the innings, thanks largely to Travis Head and his excellent 76 (43).

Head formed dangerous partnerships with both Mitchell Marsh (37) and Glenn Maxwell (20), only for Kuldeep Yadav to dismiss both, cleaning up Maxwell and accounting for Marsh thanks to a brilliant boundary catch by Axar Patel.

Bumrah returned to remove Head and Australia swung hard but with little hope from thereon as they fell short of their target to leave their World Cup hopes hanging by a thread.

Australia's semi-final hopes at big risk

Australia’s fate now lies in Afghanistan’s hands, who would qualify as the runner’s up in the group should they beat Bangladesh in the final match in the Super Eight stage.

A huge margin of victory for Bangladesh in that match could yet see the Tigers qualify for the semi-finals on NRR, while Australia would progress despite two defeats should Bangladesh enjoy a narrow victory, leaving all three sides tied on two points.