India clinched semi-final berth in heroic fashion with a six wicket win over Australia in Mohali on Sunday. After Australia scored 160 runs batting first, India got to their target with captain MS Dhoni and vice-captain Virat Kohli holding fort and five balls left to be bowled. In a Twenty20 competition, it is hard to ascertain where or when a match shifts focus and the momentum changes. But let’s try and look at the moments where the match shifted towards India: (STATS || POINTS TABLE || FIXTURES)
Ashish Nehra dismissing Usman Khawaja
Australia were cruising along after winning the toss. Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch looked to be in sublime touch and no one could stop the carnage. Jasprit Bumrah had been struck to 17 runs and R Ashwin for 22 runs. Australia were 54/0 and it was only the fifth over and Khawaja had already registered six fours to his name. Then, “comeback man” Ashish Nehra gave a packed Mohali crowd first chance to celebrate. Nehra brought Khawaja to drive off a good length ball that shaped away from him from around off stump and it took a thick edge that carried through to MS Dhoni.
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Ashwin strikes, Warner departs
Even after Khawaja’s wicket, Australia looked to be on-song. One of the most lethal batsman in world cricket was at the crease. The run-rate was above 10 runs per over and Australia were on course for 180+. Then, Ashwin struck to dismiss David Warner. Warner moved forward a notch but that was enough for Ashwin to slightly alter his line or bowl it a little slower than usual to beat Warner. It gave Dhoni the split second to allow Warner to turn and see what was going on. And the captain flicked the bails to put the brakes on Australia’s build up.
Yuvraj provides stability
India were in a murky situation at 49/3 after 7.4 overs when Yuvraj Singh came to the crease. The runs were scarce to come by and the wickets were falling at will. The situation demanded for cool and calm heads in the middle – and that is exactly what Yuvraj and Kohli provided. The duo put together 45 runs to take India from a terrible place to a slightly comfortable position. On the way, he hurt his ankle and hobbled across. The runs were slowed a touch but the wickets weren’t falling anymore. Yuvraj scored 21 runs from 18 balls before Shane Watson took a remarkable catch to dismiss the left-hander.
Kohli thrashes Faulkner for 19 runs
At the end of the 17th over, India were 122/4 with Kohli at 50 and Dhoni at 12. The Men in Blue still needed to score 39 runs from the remaining 3 overs. Not an unassailable order but not easy by any means. 13 runs an over against a strong opposition with the pressure of the country on you would make anyone nervous. But Kohli? Maybe not. Faulkner stepped up to bowl the over and it was a wise choice given he had only conceded 12 runs from his 2 overs. But now this was Kohli in his spectacular best mode. First ball – short of length and Kohli dispatches it for a four. Next ball, Faulkner keeps it very full and it is a little outside off and Kohli steers it for a square drive. Incredible shot and crowd goes berserk. Third ball of the over and Kohli steps down a notch and it goes over the long-off boundary for a SIX! Just when you think the crowd couldn’t be excited anymore, they just have. Fourth ball and they run hard for a two. Last ball of the over, drained and exhausted, you’d think. Nope! Dhoni plays it towards the on side and they complete the two runs with long strides. One would think these two are just small runs but in grand scheme of things, they matter more than boundaries at times. After this, India needed a respectable 20 runs from 12 balls. Coulter-Nile bowls the over and gets hit for four boundaries. Job all but done! And on the first ball of the final over, it is job complete!