Shikhar Dhawan’s classy hundred and a quality bowling effort powered India to a 36-run victory over Australia, denying two fallen heroes a fairytale script while sounding a warning bell for their opponents in the World Cup here Sunday.
The legend of Dhawan in ICC tournaments continued to grow as his stylish 117 formed the cornerstone of a fantastic batting display that propelled India to a commanding 352 for five.
In reply, Australia never looked like getting there as they managed only 316 in 50 overs with Steve Smith (69 off 70 balls) and David Warner’s (56 off 84 balls) half-centuries being of little consequence.
After a professional run-chase against South Africa in the opener, the second match saw the ‘Men In Blue’ burying the five-time world champions under a deluge of runs. An astounding 131 dot balls (21.5 overs) were bowled by Indian bowlers which ultimately made the difference.
Warner’s innings was an antithesis to his style of play and pegged Australia back before he was sent back by Yuzvendra Chahal (2/62 in 10 overs). Still Australia were in with a slim chance till Usman Khawaja (42) and Smith were at the crease.
Khawaja shuffled way too much trying to play a scoop behind square and was bowled by Jasprit Bumrah (3/61 in 10 overs), and Australia lost whatever momentum they had gained.
Earlier, Dhawan, during his 17th ODI hundred found perfect support from fellow opener Rohit Sharma (57 off 70 balls) in a stand of 127. He then joined forces with Virat Kohli, consolidating the innings with a 93-run stand for the second wicket.
The skipper played a very effective knock with his two maximums off Mitchell Starc (1/74 off 10 overs) — over long-on and extra cover — being the stand-out shots of the game.
The last 10 overs yielded 116 runs, primarily due to generous contributions from the middle-order players Hardik Pandya and Mahendra Singh Dhoni along with their skipper.
The team’s permanent floater, Pandya (48 off 27 balls) played in a manner only he can, and was the perfect icing on the cake on a flat Oval deck. Dhoni (27 off 14 balls) did his bit in putting the finishing touches, which included a six over square leg off Starc.