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T20 WC: Rohit Sharma shines as India beat Australia to enter semis

Rohit Sharma’s swashbuckling 92, complemented by influential spells from Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, and Kuldeep Yadav, along with Axar Patel’s one-handed stunner, sealed a 24-run win for India against Australia, securing their berth in the semi-finals of the ongoing T20 World Cup.

In a turbulent chase where momentum swung like a pendulum, it was India who punched their ticket to the semi-finals with a comprehensive win in St.Lucia. The Rohit Sharma-led side will face England in the semi-final at Providence Stadium, Guyana, on June 27.

It looked as if Travis Head would once again inflict heartbreak on the Indian team and fans just like he did seven months ago in the ODI World Cup final in Ahmedabad. But this time, Jasprit Bumrah was there to rescue the team from another dreaded end.

Not only did India march into the final four with a touch of flamboyance, but they also sent Australia on the verge of elimination. If Afghanistan wins against Bangladesh in the final game of the Super 8, Australia’s campaign will end on a bitter note.

In the chase of 206, Arshdeep Singh set the tone in India’s favor by removing David Warner on the final ball of the first over. However, the duo of Mitchell Marsh and Travis Head swung the momentum in Australia’s favor.

The duo effortlessly negated the threat in the powerplay, and Head slammed two towering sixes off Hardik Pandya in the final over of the powerplay to propel Australia’s score to 65/1. Head continued to cause India severe headaches with Pandya falling at the receiving end of his effortless power hitting.

India eventually got their breakthrough with ‘Chinaman’ spinner Kuldeep Yadav rising to the occasion. Marsh, who had survived twice, rode high on his luck and tried to clear the fence. However, he failed to go past Axar Patel, who stood as a hurdle before the boundary. A one-handed stunner from Axar ended an 81-run stand and paved the way for India to make a comeback in the game.

Head continued to be Pandya’s nightmare while Glenn Maxwell chose the moment to pick up boundaries. Maxwell shifted through gears, but Kuldeep played spoilsport yet again. He tempted him to slog the ball away with a lofty delivery, but Maxwell showed his cards too early. Maxwell (20) missed, and Kuldeep hit the stumps, marking the beginning of Australia’s downfall.

Axar removed Marcus Stoinis (2) before he could spread his wings. Arshdeep followed up with a clinical over to keep things tight. Rohit relied on his trump card, Jasprit Bumrah, to provide the breakthrough.

The situation was perfect for Australia as they needed runs, and Head intended to put pressure on India by picking boundaries. He tried to go after Bumrah but mistimed his shot. Rohit made no mistake while completing the catch.

This single moment more or less sealed Australia’s fate. Arshdeep rubbed salt on Australia’s wounds by picking two scalps in the next over. The asking rate got beyond Australia’s reach, allowing India to emerge victorious by 24 runs and maintain their unbeaten record.

Earlier in the innings, it was raining sixes in St Lucia as the captain batted like a dream, mixing aggression with pure class. Suryakumar Yadav (31), Shivam Dube (28), and Hardik Pandya’s unbeaten power-packed knock of 27 took India to a formidable total. India hit 15 sixes in the innings, 8 of which came from Rohit’s bat.

For Australia, Josh Hazlewood kept things tight, conceding just 10 off his 3 overs to ensure the powerplay ended at 60/1. Meanwhile, the Indian batting lineup destroyed Mitchell Starc, who conceded 45, while Pat Cummins gave away 0/48 and Marcus Stoinis returned with figures of 2/56.

Put to bat first, India captain Rohit Sharma started off India’s charge with a boundary in the very first over of the match. Josh Hazlewood gave India a major blow as he outfoxed Virat Kohli in the second over with a bouncer.

Hazlewood delivered a short, fastball with extra bounce, which caught Kohli off guard. Kohli attempted a pull shot but only got a top edge that went wide mid-on, and Tim David showed outstanding athleticism by sprinting back from inside the circle for 25 meters to make a well-judged catch, sending Kohli back to the pavilion without scoring from five balls faced.

This early exit aggravated Kohli’s problems in the competition, as his performance as an opener failed to provide the required results. In the third over, Rohit went berserk against Mitchell Starc as he hammered the pacer for 6, 6, 4, 6, 0, 6, gathering 29 runs.

With a fearless batting approach, India’s captain slammed a 19-ball half-century, the fastest fifty of the ongoing tournament. Leg-spinner Adam Zampa was brought into the attack after the powerplay, and the bowler was decimated by the Indian duo of Rohit and Rishabh Pant.

India lost their second wicket as Pant was out for 15. The wicketkeeper-batter tried to play one to the leg side, but Hazlewood, at mid-off, took a simple catch. India slammed 100 in just 8.4 overs.

Australia pacer Starc rattled Rohit’s stumps to give a major blow to India. The India captain missed a well-deserved hundred as he fell for 92 off 41 balls. Rohit’s wicket invited Shivam Dube to the crease, and the batter deposited four into the mid-wicket region, leaving no respite for Zampa.

After all the Australian bowlers spilled runs, it was Hazlewood who kept the tight hold, ending his spell with 1/14 where most of his compatriots were going at 10s and 12s in an over.

In the 19th over, Shivam Dube fell prey to Marcus Stoinis after scoring 28 runs. Towards the end, Hardik Pandya chipped in with a quickfire cameo, and Ravindra Jadeja played a useful hand to get India past 200.

Brief score: India 205/5 (Rohit Sharma 92, Suryakumar Yadav 31; Mitchell Starc 2/45) vs Australia 181/7 (Travis Head 76; Arshdeep Singh 3-37, Kuldeep Yadav 2-24).

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