Four out of four

For India, though, there’s plenty to be thrilled by. First on that list has to be Yuvraj Singh’s return to form. The left-hander had struggled since his arrival in Bangladesh, with Dhoni putting that down to pressure. Yuvraj took his time here, but once he got his eye in, he cut loose, belting a 43-ball 60. By Shreedutta Chidananda.

India waltzed into the semifinals of the ICC World Twenty20 with a perfect record, hammering Australia by 73 runs. This was a strange game, for the future of both sides in the competition had already been established. India was through to the semifinals two days earlier while Australia was out, after Pakistan’s defeat of Bangladesh.

If Australia had hoped that these circumstances would enable its players to play with greater freedom, it was to be disappointed bitterly. The bowlers did reasonably well to limit India to 159, although M.S. Dhoni later said even 145 would have been a good score on a wicket that was slower and offered more turn.

But it does not excuse the batting shambles, as the side collapsed to 86 all out. “Without being disrespectful to Bangladesh, it would’ve been a shock to us if Bangladesh had beaten Pakistan,” the Australian captain George Bailey said. “So we weren’t arriving here expecting miracles. There was enough for us to prove by playing India, who we think are going to be close to tournament favourites, and to win.”

For India, though, there’s plenty to be thrilled by. First on that list has to be Yuvraj Singh’s return to form. The left-hander had struggled since his arrival in Bangladesh, with Dhoni putting that down to pressure. Yuvraj took his time here, but once he got his eye in, he cut loose, belting a 43-ball 60.

“It was quite calm out there but I felt Yuvi’s innings was brilliant, the way he paced his innings. And the best part was an innings like this was needed for him, where he can be expressive and where he can be himself. It was an ideal opportunity today. He went in, played a few deliveries and he expressed himself,” Dhoni said later.

It augurs well for the team. Yuvraj is the sort of player that can take runs off the opponent’s best bowler, crushing any well-laid plans. India has one batsman like that in Virat Kohli; a second is invaluable.

R. Ashwin maintained his fantastic form, taking four for 11, including the wicket of the lethal Glenn Maxwell. The latter had struck fear into Indian hearts with three huge sixes, but he perished attempting an unnecessary reverse sweep. The match was won with that wicket and what followed was a mere formality.

India had used the opportunity to make two changes – Ajinkya Rahane replaced Shikhar Dhawan while Mohit Sharma came in for Mohammad Shami. Mohit, making his international T20 debut on the occasion, acquitted himself well, taking the wicket of Shane Watson. He bowled only two overs and if Dhoni had been hoping to try him at the death, Australia’s batsmen would not give him that chance.

THE SCORES

India: Rohit Sharma c Muirhead b Hodge 5, Ajinkya Rahane c Haddin b Bollinger 19, Virat Kohli c White b Muirhead 23, Yuvraj Singh c Maxwell b Watson 60, Suresh Raina c Finch b Maxwell 6, M.S. Dhoni b Starc 24, Ravindra Jadeja (run out) 3, R. Ashwin (not out) 2, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (not out) 0, Extras (lb-6, w-10, nb-1) 17, Total (for seven wickets in 20 overs) 159.

Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-46, 3-53, 4-66, 5-150, 6-152, 7-158.

Australia bowling: Brad Hodge 2-0-13-1, Glenn Maxwell 4-0-20-1, Mitchell Starc 4-0-36-1, Shane Watson 4-0-36-1, Doug Bollinger 4-0-24-1, James Muirhead 2-0-24-1.

Australia: Aaron Finch c Kohli b Ashwin 6, David Warner c Rohit b Ashwin 19, Cameron White c Jadeja b Bhuvneshwar 0, Shane Watson b Mohit 1, Glenn Maxwell b Ashwin 23, George Bailey c Kohli b Jadeja 8, Brad Hodge c Jadeja b Mishra 13, Brad Haddin c Rahane b Mishra 6, Mitchell Starc (run out) 2, James Muirhead c Dhoni b Ashwin 3, Doug Bollinger (not out) 1, Extras (lb-3, w-1) 4, Total (in 16.2 overs): 86.

Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-19, 3-21, 4-44, 5-55, 6-63, 7-75, 8-79, 9-83.

India bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3-0-7-1, Mohit Sharma 2-0-11-1, R. Ashwin 3.2-0-11-4, Suresh Raina 1-0-16-0, Ravindra Jadeja 4-0-25-1, Amit Mishra 3-0-13-2.