Watson and Warner obliterate India
Australia demonstrated their credentials as World Twenty20 title challengers in stunning fashion as a thunderous opening stand of 133 between Shane Watson and David Warner condemned India to a nine-wicket Super Eights defeat in Colombo.
After Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men had been restricted to a modest 140 for seven, thanks largely to three wickets from Watson and a fine display from Pat Cummins, who returned 2-16 from four overs, Australia’s opening pair took the opposition attack apart.
Watson, capitalising on India’s tendency to drop short, cleared the ropes on seven occasions en route to 72 off 42 deliveries, while Warner collected three sixes over wide long-on before finishing unbeaten on 63 from 41 as victory was completed with 31 balls unused.
Virender Sehwag was surprisingly left out by India, whose five specialist bowlers - together with part-timers Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma - proved woefully ineffective.
The in-form Watson represented a particularly fearsome presence at the crease; the all-rounder now boasts 164 runs - and eight wickets - in this tournament and has only been dismissed twice.
Watson played second fiddle to Warner in the opening overs of Australia’s chase, yet two pulled sixes off Ravichandran Ashwin hinted at what was to come from the right-hander.
Warner survived a strong lbw shout from Zaheer Khan on 21 and capitalised by slog-sweeping Harbhajan for back-to-back maximums.
It was not long before Watson moved to 50 with his first four and seventh boundary in all. He was caught at extra-cover off Yuvraj with eight required, but that did little to detract from a thoroughly dominant Australian batting display.
India’s innings, by contrast, never really got going after Dhoni had won the toss.
The hugely impressive Cummins was responsible for the first two breakthroughs - he ran out Gambhir with a neat piece of footwork in his followthrough and then had dangerman Kohli caught by Dan Christian, back-pedalling from mid-off to take a mis-hit pull after the batsman had been beaten for pace.
Three wickets in the space of seven balls further undermined India. Yuvraj holed out to Watson, who then had Irfan sharply caught at short midwicket by Cameron White for 31 before Sharma was bowled by Mitchell Starc.
When Dhoni also fell cheaply to Cummins, it was left to Suresh Raina to boost the total with a brisk 26, which ended when he picked out long-off to become a third scalp for the irrepressible Watson.