BRILLIANT AUSTRALIA CRUSH INDIA AT WORLD TWENTY20
Warner hit seven sixes in a aggressive display at the top of the Australia order
By Harry Reekie
Australia beat India by 49 runs in their opening Super Eights clash at the ICC World Twenty20 after a supreme display with bat and ball in Barbados.
Shane Watson (54) and David Warner (72) got Michael Clarke's side off to a fine start and inspired a total of 184-5.
India then self-destructed in reply, slipping to a dreadful 50-7 as Dirk Nannes (3-25) applied huge pressure.
Rohit Sharma (79 not out) led a mini fightback with some brutal late hitting but his team were bowled out for 135.
Mahendra Dhoni's side still have every chance of qualifying for the semi-finals but will be hoping for an immediate return to winning ways against West Indies on Sunday.
Australia, meanwhile, continue to make a mockery of entering the tournament unseeded and look genuine contenders to go on and win a first World Twenty20 title.
Aggressive batting certainly led the way for Clarke's side but it was the performance of their pace attack that will surely send shivers down the spines of every other team left in the competition.
Unlike India, Australia had got used to the pace and bounce of the Barbados wicket against Bangladesh on Wednesday and wasted little time in using that experience as Warner and Watson began a brilliant opening stand.
The latter was unable to get Harbhajan Singh away first up but made up for it by tucking into Ravindra Jadeja's first offering with three clubbed sixes, one of which went over the roof of the main stand.
Warner was also aggressive at the other end, sending one huge maximum back over the head of a seething Zaheer Khan, who had returned after being rested against South Africa.
The left-hander was well and truly into his stride when Dhoni decided to give Jadeja another chance and this time Warner promptly launched the hapless spinner's first three deliveries into the stands.
That meant Jadeja had disappeared for six successive maximums spanning two overs, and although the 21-year-old gave up just a single from his remaining three balls figures of 0-38 in his two overs told their own story.
Watson had raced to 54 by the time he was bowled by Yusuf Pathan going for an almighty cart over the leg-side but Warner and new batsman David Hussey gleefully continued the carnage.
Nannes played his part in another fired-up Australia bowling display
“I believe we have the best two openers in Twenty20 cricket in the world at the moment,” Clarke said.
“I think they bat fantastically together, left-hand, right-hand combination, both very aggressive but if they need to take their time they don't seem distressed too much.
“They are two wonderful players and I am blessed to have them on my team.”
Little left-hander Warner eventually edged Yuvraj Singh to wicketkeeper Dhoni for an impressive 72 that contained seven sixes, one more than Watson had managed in his equally dominant knock.
In an otherwise under-par bowling display from India it was all the more impressive that the excellent Harbhajan conceded only 15 from his four overs, but his efforts were not enough to stem the scoring.
Hussey joined in the fun with 35 from 22 balls before he was predictably caught in the deep although any hopes of a score over 200 were dispelled by some much improved India bowling at the death.
Not that their batsmen were able to continue the momentum, however, as Australia's much-vaunted pace attack made good use of a responsive pitch.
Murali Vijay (2) looked all at sea before gifting a leading edge off a fired-up Nannes to cover before Gautam Gambhir (9) top-edged the same bowler to mid-wicket.
In-form Suresh Raina could only manage five before an ill-advised hook went straight up and was held by Clarke – despite several Australia fielders putting a name on the catch.
A win was already a near impossibility for India and things went from bad to worse when the excellent Nannes yorked Yuvraj for just one.
Dhoni (2) then heaved Steve Smith to David Hussey on the boundary while Pathan (1) – so dangerous at the Indian Premier League – was sent packing after Warner took a sprawling catch in the deep.
Sharma salvaged pride with some lusty hitting in what would otherwise have been a memorable innings but Australia still closed out an emphatic victory when Shaun Tait shattered Ashish Nehra's stumps.