Colombo: In the lead-up to the Super 8 tie against India, Australia skipper George Bailey was asked if his team was over-reliant on Shane Watson.
Bailey’s reply showed not just how much his team relied on the allrounder but also how he believed in the right-hander’s ability to deliver again and again.
“I don’t know whether you can call it over-dependence on Watson just because he has performed well in both the games,” Bailey had said. “He is a very good player, he is good with the ball and he is an outstanding batsman. He is one of the players that opposition teams fear when they run into him. At the moment, one of his strengths is his consistency, so he is dependable but I am not sure if we are over-dependent on him.”
While Bailey can say that with a fair bit of confidence, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni must have been robbed of whatever little confidence he had in his team. India crashed to a crushing nine-wicket defeat against an on-song Australian team. Shane Watson (72 off 42 balls, 2×4, 7×6) and David Warner (63 not out, 7×4, 3×6) put on 133 runs in 13.3 overs for the opening wicket and gave Dhoni’s men no chance.
The match began with Dhoni winning the toss and electing to bat. But the bigger news was that he had opted to drop Sehwag – yes, the opener was not rested but dropped. India also decided to go in with five bowlers including three spinners – R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla.
The batting, however, never really took off. Irfan Pathan top-scored with 31 off 30 balls but he was never able to raise the pace of the innings. Suresh Raina chipped in with 26 off 19 balls but Dhoni had a disappointing outing, scoring just 15 runs in 21 balls. India ended up losing wickets at regular intervals through their innings and scored just 140 runs for the loss of 7 wickets at the end of their 20 overs.
Watson took 3-34, Cummins claimed 2-16 and the rest of the bowlers ensured that the game never ran away from the Australians.
A brief shower interrupted play as soon the Australian innings started but it last for just a few seconds. Within minutes the players were back on the field and the Aussies, in particular, looked like they were never went away.
The first ball after the break was smacked for four. Till the 8th over mark, Australia were just 67 for no loss. Zaheer Khan had a few close shouts for leg-before. But then all hell broke lose. Six sixes were smashed off the next 14 balls – two each off Chawla, Harbhajan and Irfan.
And from that point on there was no stopping Watson and Warner. They treated the Indian attack like a rag doll and smashed it to all parts of the ground with stunning ease.
Dhoni must’ve gone off the ground wondering what just hit him. A frustrating night for India and the feeling will only grow over the next couple of days before India run into Pakistan in a do-or-die encounter on Sunday.
Bailey at least has someone to rely on but Dhoni must be wondering if there is one bowler in his line-up who he can throw the ball to and expect a wicket. This was a grim reminder of reality for the Indian team.