Despite only averaging 5.5 in this tournament, Yuvraj Singh is still seen as an importance presence in a strong Indian line-up. Useful with bat and ball, the 32-year-old outlined his importance after his side were put in to bat in this fixture. After MS Dhoni’s men lost dangermen Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli cheaply and were reduced to 66-4, the left-hander ensured the innings didn’t collapse completely. During the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup six years ago, Yuvraj was a driving force as his contributions, which included a 30-ball 70 against today’s opponents, helped ensure their triumph. A key strength of his game is an ability to strike the ball cleanly as England captain Stuart Broad will profess, after he was hit for 36 in a single over during the 2007 campaign. While he is a shadow of his former self, there were glimpses of this power during an innings of 60 with nine boundaries, as he notched an eighth international half-century in this format. Combining with skipper Dhoni, they put on a partnership of 84 to set a target of 160, and this proved enough to extend their winning run to six matches.
The impact of slow bowlers in the shortest format continues to grow and the tactics in this game illustrated this change of approach. After winning the toss and bowling first, George Bailey chose to open his attack with 39-year-old Brad Hodge – who had bowled just three overs in T20 internationals previously. Bailey’s decision had an instant impact though as the veteran, who was lured out of retirement for this tournament, dismissed Rohit Sharma for just five. The next wicket would also come from a spinner as James Muirhead took the scalp of dangerous middle-order batsmen Virat Kohli for 23.
There was also a tidy spell from part-timer Glenn Maxwell, as he clocked up figures of 1-20 from his quartet of overs. In reply, India preferred to begin with seam options Bhuvnesh Kumar and debutant Mohit Sharma. It took until the third over for India to introduce a spinner with Ravi Ashwin and he didn’t take long to make an impact as he notched a wicket with his second ball, as Aaron Finch departed. Ashwin would continue to cause problems for the Aussies as he accounted for dangermen David Warner (19) and Glenn Maxwell (23) as George Bailey’s side were reduced to 56-5. Part-time option Ravindra Jadela would be the next to strike before in-form Amit Mishra continued his impressive tournament by notching another four successes. The crucial role played by the spinners is obvious as they notched seven of the wickets that fell in the reply, and this array of options may prove to be a useful game-changer as the tournament progresses.
After Pakistan comfortably defeated Bangladesh, Darren Lehmann’s side knew the result of this encounter was irrelevant, and that their participation was over. Following their success-filled campaign where they triumphed over England and South Africa, losing just a pair of matches from the 18 played, they were tipped to perform well. Their momentum wouldn’t be translated into a triumphant spell in Bangladesh though as they came out second best against Pakistan and the West Indies, which all but ensured their early exit. Despite this being a dead-rubber, Australia started well as they limited their opponents to 66-4, with a run rate of 5.92 in the first 13 overs. Doubts started to set in as they conceded 82 runs in the latter part of the innings and the signs weren’t on their side, as India had lost just seven times when setting a target of 160 or more. Following the pre-match criticism that his experienced players hadn’t performed well during this tournament, the coach would be preparing another pep-talk to the stalwarts as they failed to deliver again. While David Warner, Cameron White, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and captain Bailey have 191 appearances in this format between them, they notched a combined total of 34 runs. It would be an embarrassing innings for the Aussies as they collapsed to 86 all out to lose by 73 runs. Ahead of October’s tour in Pakistan – which begins with a single T20 encounter and three ODI fixtures – there is a lot to ponder for Lehmann who was to decide whether to cast aside the experienced campaigners.
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BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge
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