Image courtesy of: Zimbio
A new World Cup champion will be crowned on March 29 after Australia dumped defending champions India out of the tournament with a convincing 95-run win in Sydney.
Steve Smith starred with the bat for Australia as he scored 105, while opener Aaron Finch made 81.
However, India captain captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni deserves some credit for his valiant knock of 65.
Australia skipper Michael Clarke would have been mulling over his decision to bat first after opener David Warner was caught by Virat Kohli at cover off the bowling of Umesh Yadav for 12.
Finch and Smith made up for the early loss of Warner with a 182-run partnership, during which Smith brought up his fourth ODI century and Finch his half-century, before Smith was caught by Rohit Sharma at deep square leg off the bowling of Yadav.
Smith’s career-best knock of 105 came off 93 balls and included 11 boundaries and two sixes.
Glenn Maxwell made a quickfire 23 before he was caught by Ajinkya Rahane at deep backward square off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin.
Finch went on to score 81 off 116 deliveries, which included seven boundaries and a six, before he was caught by Shikhar Dhawan at midwicket off the bowling of Yadav.
Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Clarke failed to have an impact with the bat as he was caught by Rohit Sharma at midwicket off the bowling of Mohit Sharma for 10 runs.
James Faulkner smashed a rapid 21 before he was clean bowled by Yadav.
Shane Watson managed to make 28 runs before he was caught by Rahane at deep square leg off the bowling of Mohit Sharma.
Thanks to Smith and Finch, Australia finished on 328/7 off their 50 overs.
Yadav was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Mohit Sharma snapped up two and Ashwin chipped in with one.
Chasing 329 to win, India got off to a brilliant start as Dhawan and Rohit Sharma amassed a 76-run partnership before Dhawan was caught by Maxwell at deep extra cover off the bowling of Josh Hazlewood for 45.
Kohli only made one run before he was caught behind off the bowling of Mitchell Johnson.
Sharma ended up making 34 runs before he was cleaned up by Johnson.
Suresh Raina mustered seven runs before he was caught behind off the bowling of Faulkner.
Rahane and Dhoni stemmed the bleeding with a 70-run partnership before Rahane was caught behind off the bowling of Mitchell Starc for 44.
Rahane was not given out initially, but Australia decided to review the decision. Unfortunately for Rahane, the replays showed that he had in fact hit the ball before Brad Haddin took the catch behind the stumps. As a result of this, the third umpire overturned the original decision.
Ravindra Jadeja made 16 runs before he was run out by Smith.
Dhoni went on to score 65 off 65 balls, which included three boundaries and two sixes, before he was brilliantly run out by Maxwell.
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Following Dhoni’s dismissal, India’s lower order collapsed as they went from 231/7 to being bowled out for 233.
Faulkner was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Johnson and Starc took two wickets each and Hazlewood claimed one.
Dhoni was gutted to have been knocked out, and said: “They played very good cricket, over 300 is always a difficult score, I felt it was just over par, they could have had 350. We started okay but they bowled well, they got the reverse swing going. We were happy with where we were at the start of the tournament. We got off to a very good start, Shikhar’s dismissal was slightly on the softer side, at a time when we could have had the bowling under pressure. Didn’t really need to play a big shot. But you get pressure chasing 300+, it makes you do things you don’t want to do.
“There was too much [for me to do], our lower order can’t contribute too much in these conditions. Most of the good teams bat quite deep. Not sure [about next World Cup], I’m 33, I’m still running, still fit. Next year, T20 World Cup, will be time to decide about 2019 or not. [Players improved?] Rahane is one, right through the Tests, ODIs, he’s improved his batting a lot. I would like to thank the fans, at the end of the day when you play cricket you want people to come and watch, we’ve been here four months and the fans are travelling all over.”
Clarke was ecstatic to have qualified for the final, and said: “Obviously really excited, the boys played some outstanding cricket, Smithy’s hitting the ball so sweetly and I was really proud of the execution of our bowlers. A lot of the guys sacrificed themselves for the team. Thanks to MS Dhoni and the India team, they’ve given a lot over the summer… You asked if MS was going to be at the next World Cup, I’m sure he will be, he has a lot of cricket in him.
“Losing to New Zealand [in the group stage] gave us a kick up the backside, the boys have turned up to training and the results have showed that. It’s a wonderful achievement, we’re proud to make the final but it’s going to be tough against New Zealand. We’ll fly to Melbourne, recover tomorrow, speak about training. It’s been a long summer, we’ve got a few aches, mentally ready for the final but physically a few things to sort out. They’re a great team, it’s always good to play New Zealand, we hope plenty of Aussies come out to support us.”
Smith was named Man of the Match, and said: “Certainly does [feel good], we thought 330 was around par, we had to bowl and field well, the boys did a terrific job, so hang on Melbourne. [Pleased with performance] Big stage tonight, semi-final of a World Cup, just nice to get over the line at the end. I always think of those people who’ve helped you along the way, really happy where everything is at the moment and looking forward to Melbourne. [Rahane review] Me and Maxi thought ‘I’m sure he hit that’, they looked upstairs and there it was. Nice one to get. [Runs left for the final] Hope so, another big hundred would be nice, going to be an amazing moment to play a World Cup final against New Zealand, in our conditions at the MCG.”