Rohit Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav sparkle as India upstage Australia to set semi-final clash with England at T20 World Cup | Crickit

Rohit Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav sparkle as India upstage Australia to set semi-final clash with England at T20 World Cup

By, New Delhi
Jun 25, 2024 06:16 AM IST

India skipper's 41-ball 92 and spirited bowling sets up a 24-run win that leaves Australia's last four hopes in the balance.

A Rohit Sharma classic set the match up for India and the bowlers led by an unreadable Kuldeep Yadav took the team to victory over arch-rivals Australia in Super 8s at St Lucia on Monday.

India's Rohit Sharma (c) and Kuldeep Yadav celebrate the dismissal of Australia's Glenn Maxwell (ANI)
India's Rohit Sharma (c) and Kuldeep Yadav celebrate the dismissal of Australia's Glenn Maxwell (ANI)

The Indian skipper's 41-ball 92 helped his team reach 205/5 and in reply, the Aussies could only reach 181/7. The 24-run win means that India have booked a place in the T20 World Cup semi-final against England while Mitch Marsh's team need Bangladesh to beat Afghanistan if they want to advance.

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With Australia skipper Mitch Marsh deciding to bowl on what seemed to be a belter of a track, India had their task cut out.

But the manner in which they started didn't inspire much confidence. Virat Kohli was dismissed for a five-ball duck, and after two overs India were 6/1. That is when Rohit decided to step up.

The Indian skipper has struggled against left-armers, in the past and in this tournament too, but with Mitch Starc getting little swing, the Hitman decided to tee off.

The over started with a six and Rohit smashed it over cover. The second ball was full and wide and it was smashed for another six. The third was hit for four down the ground while the fourth was tonked over deep midwicket. The fifth was a dot ball and it was followed by a wide while the sixth was top-edged for a six.

The 29-run Starc over was the most expensive he has ever bowled in T20Is. He didn't quite get it right and Rohit made sure that the left-armer will remember it for a long time.

At the end of the Powerplay, India had reached 60/1 and Rohit had scored 51 of those runs. His timing was on and he picked the gaps with ease. For a while, the Indian skipper has dealt in quickfire cameos but today, he put on a splendid show.

He didn't allow Zampa to settle -- hammering 16 runs off the leg-spinner's first over and inflicting the same treatment to Stoinis (17 runs off his first over). It kept the pressure on and it was precisely what India needed.

The eight sixes hit by Rohit during his knock were the most by an India batter in an innings at the men's T20 World Cup. He broke the previous record of Yuvraj Singh, who had hit seven sixes against England in 2007.

"I thought right from over No.1 there was a strong breeze blowing across," said Rohit after the game. "They changed their plan, bowling against the breeze, so I realised I had to open up the off side as well. You've got to factor in the breeze, and understand that the bowlers are smart as well, and open up all sides of the field. When you keep an open mind and not just think of one shot, you can access all areas of the field."

By the time Rohit was dismissed, India were cruising. A few wickets saw them lose some momentum but anything over 200 is always going to be a challenge.

Still, India have been haunted by Travis Head in the big games and the left-hander once again seemed to be in the mood.

He went after the bowlers -- targetting Hardik Pandya in particular to put the pressure back on India. Rohit's team knew they could bank on Jasprit Bumrah (4-0-29-1) but the real magic came from Kuldeep Yadav.

The Aussies weren't reading him and as a result, they were playing him off the wicket. But the Head-Marsh partnership was going well. They were getting the big hits and their 81-run stand off 48 balls had India scratching their heads for a bit.

But then a moment of magic in the field allowed India to claw their way back into the match. A long hop from Kuldeep was hammered towards deep square leg. It was flat and it was travelling but Axar Patel stuck his right-hand out, leaping, to take a one-handed catch that no one will forget in a hurry.

Despite a short cameo from Maxwell, Australia were always playing catch up. But it wasn't until Head was finally dismissed after making 76 off 43 balls that India could breathe easy.

"It's disappointing," said Marsh after the game. "Still technically a chance to go through, and today India got the better of us. I think over the course of 40 overs there's a lot of small margins, but honestly, India were the better team. We've seen for 15 years what Rohit Sharma can do in that kind of mood, and he got off to an absolute flier. In a run chase like that, you're in it if you can keep it at tens for as long as possible, but India were too good for us. Come on, Bangladesh!"

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