Australia has destroyed India with a performance of such force as to send tremors through the World Twenty20 field. And the hero of the annihilation? No prizes for guessing that Shane Watson collected his third man-of-the-match award in as many matches. M S Dhoni, captian of India, looks on as David Warner of Australia celebrates after winning the super eight match between Australia and India held at R. Premadasa Stadium on September 28, 2012 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Watson [72 from 55 balls] has hardly let any of his teammates get a piece of the action in the tournament so far, although the most breathtaking feature of Australia's nine-wicket win, with 31 balls to spare, was his 133-run opening stand with David Warner.
They broke their own record for the biggest first-wicket stand in the country's Twenty20 history, eclipsing their 111-run stand in Dubai earlier this month. India, short of firepower after leaving Virender Sehwag out of the team, staggered to 7-140 after being hit with a barrage of aggressive pace bowling. Though Watson picked up three wickets, adding to his important hauls in the first two games, the outstanding fast bowler was Pat Cummins, whose figures 2-16 from four overs conveyed his accuracy as well as his aggression.
Watson's merciless assault on the Indian attack, which included three specialist spinners, contained seven sixes while Warner, a difficult man to overshadow, cleared the fence three times in his knock of 63 not out from 41 balls. Watson punished Irfan Pathan, muscling consecutive sixes over square leg in an over that cost India 19 runs. He hopped into Harbhajan Singh, too, who was not allowed to get into a groove as he did against England and conceded 20 from his two overs.
The Australian vice-captain eventually succumbed to the part-time spin of Yuvraj Singh, sending a catch to short cover, allowing Glenn Maxwell to the crease for six balls. As destructive as Australia's batting was, the win was set up by aggressive bowling that proved the theory that India's batsmen don't like short and nasty bowling.
No one illustrated this better than Cummins, who set up Virat Kohli in the 8th over with a bouncer into the ribs and then dug in a quicker one, which Kohli skied to mid-off, where Dan Christian took a well-judged catch. Cummins wasn't finished. He almost had IPathan caught at deep mid-wicket, where Mitchell Starc made a valiant attempt, and greeted Yuvraj with a rising bouncer that forced the languid Indian into his quickest movement of the day to sway out of its path.
Yuvraj also fell to a bouncer, from Watson, which he top-edged to deep mid-wicket, starting a middle order collapse of three wickets for four runs in seven balls. The only Indian wicket that didn't fall to pace was that of Gautam Gambhir, who was the victim of a nifty piece of footwork from Cummins. Cummins kicked the ball into the stumps to run the opener out in the third over of the match. It was a smart bit of work from the young Australia, who continues to show maturity beyond his years.