World Twenty20: Australia crush India by nine wickets

 

Shane Watson blitzed India with runs and wickets as Australia raced to a nine-wicket win to make a mockery of tonight's heavyweight ICC World Twenty20 clash at the Premadasa Stadium.

Watson (72) and his opening partner David Warner (63 not out) gorged 10 sixes between them, in a stand of 133, after the former had also taken three for 34 to restrict India to 140 for seven.

India, whose last outing at this venue was their own 90-run Group A trouncing of off-colour England, were on the other side of an unequal equation this time as Australia finished them off with more than five overs to spare.

Watson began patiently before topping and tailing Piyush Chawla's first over - the eighth - with a six over mid-wicket to start and then a second maximum back over the leg-spinner's head to finish. Warner joined in with successive leg-side sixes off Harbhajan Singh in the next over, and Australia were already on track to complete their task notably early in this Super Eight match.

Watson repeated the same dose of double maximums when Mahendra Singh Dhoni brought Irfan Pathan into the attack, and for good measure he passed his 28-ball fifty with his first four - off his pads - to go with six sixes.

Warner had a close call for lbw against Zaheer Khan on 21, and was dropped caught-behind by Dhoni off Yuvraj Singh on 45.

Watson, by contrast, gave no chances until he was caught at cover off Yuvraj - a wicket which came far too late to make any difference to the outcome in an extraordinarily one-sided contest.

India had to work hard for what seemed initially to be a near-par total, after winning the toss, Pathan top-scoring with 31 at better than a run a ball.

Pathan, opening with Gautam Gambhir as India again chose to leave out Virender Sehwag, provided the stability others could not.

But his was the second of three wickets to fall for four runs, in the 70s, and India therefore needed some productivity from their middle and lower order. Gambhir was run out when Pat Cummins kicked the ball on to the stumps to effect the first dismissal of the match.

Then Pathan apart, none of India's specialist batsmen managed to establish himself - and it was only some late hitting from Suresh Raina, down at an unaccustomed number seven, and R Ashwin that gave them a score they could even hope to defend.

If they thought they might have enough runs, they very quickly discovered otherwise.

PA

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