A stupendous all-round performance saw Australia carve out a 95 run victory over India to reach the final of the Cricket World Cup. The co-hosts sparkled with bat, ball and in the field in front of 42,330 spectators, the majority Indian, to oust the defending champions.
Australia will now take on New Zealand in the final at Melbourne on Sunday. Winning the toss, Australia posted an impressive 328 for 7, riding on Steven Smith’s 105 off 93 balls with 11 boundaries and two sixes.
Smith and opener Aaron Finch, who cracked 81 runs off 116 balls with seven fours and a six, put on 182 runs in 31 overs for the second wicket.
Umesh Yadav was the pick among the Indian bowlers with 4 for 72, but for the first time the India attack failed to bowl out their opponents in this World Cup.
Though India chased through openers Shikhar Dhawan’s 45 off 41 balls with six fours and one six, and his 76 run opening partnership with Rohit Sharma (34), Australian left-arm trio of James Faulkner (3 for 59) Mitchell Starc (2 for 28) and Mitchell Johnson (2 for 50), backed by two brilliant run-outs, bowled India out for 233 in 46.5 overs.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni top scored with 65 runs off 65 balls with three fours and two sixes, but his valiant effort went in vain.
Australia won the toss and promptly elected to bat. Indian opening bowler Mohammad Shami began with a fine over giving away just two runs.
Opener David Warner cracked Umesh Yadav’s first delivery of the next over for a boundary past mid-off. The last ball of that over, Warner played a short-arm pull for six.
Shami bowled another beautiful over, giving away just one run.Yadav dismissed Warner with the first ball of the fourth over mainly due to pressure from Shami’s two tight overs. Wanting to play another short-arm pull, he top edged to Virat Kohli in the covers for 12.
For the next 31 overs no wicket fell with Smith quickly settling down and Finch slowly dominating the Indian attack.
Smith, who began with an elegant shot off Yadav by opening the face of his bat for his first boundary past mid-off, began to score freely. Finch also played some lovely straight drives.
In the tenth over, Smith hit consecutive boundaries off Yadav twice in the over.
Dhoni introduced Kohli for one over hoping to force the batsman commit a mistake but in vain.
Finch played left arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja comfortably. By the 20th over, Dhoni introduced a double spin attack, bringing in Ravichandran Ashwin.
By the half way mark, Australia were 132 for 1, maintaining a run rate of 5.28.
Smith dominated Indian bowling so much that in the 33rd over he hit a boundary past short fine leg and slogged over mid-wicket for a six.Pulling the last ball of the over for another boundary, Smith reached his century to become the first Australian to hit 100 in a World Cup semi-final.
He also became the fifth man overall to score a ton in a semi-final after Graham Gooch, Saeed Anwar, Sourav Ganguly and Mahela Jayawardene.
Two overs later, Smith became a Yadav victim, top edging to Rohit Sharma at deep square leg.
Australia promoted Glenn Maxwell to accelerate the run rate. He hit Yadav for two boundaries and a six but fell to Ashwin sweeping to Ajinkya Rahane at deep square leg for a 14-ball knock of 23. In the next over Yadav dismissed Finch by having him caught at mid wicket by Shikhar Dhawan for 81.
When Mohit Sharma picked up the wicket of Australian skipper Michael Clarke for 10, caught by Sharma at midwicket, it looked like Australia may not reach 300.
Faulkner and Shane Watson added 36 runs in 4.2 overs before Faulkner was clean bowled to a yorker from Yadav for 21.
Watson fell for 28 hitting Sharma to Rahane at deep square leg. Mitchell Johnson cracked three consecutive boundaries off Shami and also a six in the last over to remain unbeaten on 27 runs.
Chasing a run rate of 6.56 runs an over, India needed a good start and openers Sharma and Dhawan provided it. Dhawan on five was dropped by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin while trying to play a shot on the rise.
Johnson was introduced in the seventh over and Sharma hooked his second delivery for six. Dhawan punished Faulkner for 16 runs in his first over. He picked up two consecutive boundaries and a six over mid wicket.
The pair put on 76 runs in 12.5 overs when Dhawan hit Hazlewood straight to Maxwell at deep extra cover for 45. Next man Kohli lasted just 13 balls before he top edged Johnson to wicketkeeper Haddin to take a comfortable catch for 1.
Sharma hit Johnson again for a six into the crowd but fell to the very next delivery to a ball that nipped back to hit his stumps for 34.
Three down for 91, all the advantage of the good start began to erode. Suresh Raina fell to a Faulkner delivery, dangling his bat to a short pitched one to be caught behind for 7.
At the half way mark, India needed 214 runs from the next 25 overs with six wickets in hand.Dhoni and Rahane put on 70 runs in the next 13.2 overs before Starc had Rahane caught behind for 44 after a review.
Jadeja joined Dhoni and in the last ten overs, India needed 133 runs. Dhoni, on 42, went for a pull off Hazlewood and Clarke dropped the catch with the ball popping out of his hand despite getting correctly under it. Luck did not favour Jadeja, who while taking a quick single was brilliant run out off a direct throw from Smith at backward point.
Dhoni reached his 50 hitting Watson for a six over the covers. The next ball Dhoni hit over long off for another six. Maxwell ended Dhoni’s innings, running him out off a direct hit for 65 to draw the curtain on India’s challenge.