Written by Sahil Malhotra | March 26, 2015 9:53:50 pm
Two crucial wickets, a fiery spell and the little cameo with the bat make Mitchell Johnson our pick for the game changer in the all-important semi-final clash between India and Australia at the SCG. It was a contest dominated by Australia right from the toss but sheer dominance wouldn’t have been possible without Johnson’s little but crucial contributions with both bat and ball.(Full Coverage| Venues | Fixtures)
After the Aaron Finch-Steve Smith stand, Australia kept losing wickets at regular intervals and were kept under check by a spirited Indian bowling attack. Aussies, looking good to score 350 plus at one stage, were uncertain to touch the 325-run mark when Johnson walked into bat.
The left-arm quick wasted no time and smoked Mohammed Shami for three consecutive boundaries in the 49th over of the innings. He didn’t stop there and went on to score 14 more in the final over. A 9-ball 27 at the death was just the kind of innings Australia wanted to shift momentum in their favour, and wake up their sleeping giant.
Johnson has certainly not had the tournament he would have liked in home conditions. Before the India game, he took only 10 wickets, four out of which came against minnows Afghanistan. The semi-final, however, turned out to be a different story.
After the show with the bat, the quick worked up serious pace in the middle. Bowling first change, the left-armer extracted bounce from the surface and kept the Indians on their toes. When India lost Shikhar Dhawan after brisk start, a mouth-watering Virat Kohli-Johnson contest was on the cards.
Throughout the Australian summer, the duo have had interesting battles on and off the field. While Kohli got the better of Johnson in the Tests, it was the latter’s turn to exact sweet revenge, and what stage better than the semi-final.
Early in his innings, Kohli negotiated a testing over from Johnson where the seamer tried all tricks – short, full and swinging delivery across the stumps. After the early respect, Kohli lost his patience and attempted a wild pull against the run play. The Delhi Dasher failed to make good connection and sent it up in the air for Haddin to take an easy catch.
Kohli’s wicket was just the ignition Australia, Johnson needed after chasing leather for the first ten overs.
In the 18th over, after conceding a clean six, Johnson went back to his mark, ran in hard, a yard harder, and got the better of the set Rohit Sharma. It was a perfect exhibition of quality pace bowling as the Indian opener was hurried by the pace and managed an inside edge back on to his stumps.
A 9-ball 27, fiery 2/50 spell with the ball clearly made the difference. 20 runs here and there, Kohli and Rohit staying there for long could have changed the complexion of the contest.
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