We ticked all the boxes against Australia, says Dhawan

London: Shikhar Dhawan’s classy hundred and a quality bowling effort powered India to a 36-run victory over Australia, 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.

Speaking after being adjudged as the Man of the Match Shikhar Dhawan said, “We are happy with the result as it was a great team effort. It’s a great sign for our team and I’m happy with this man of the match award. Very happy with the performance overall. We are a great fielding side, we took great catches. We have a good bowling side, great spinners as well. We work really hard in the nets, our process is very strong that’s why the results are going our way. We ticked all the boxes in the match.”

India lost to Australia in the last series at home and skipper Virat Kohli said they had a point to prove in the match. “A top, top win for us specially after losing that series in India. We had a point to prove against this side. We came here with intent right from ball one. The opening partnership was outstanding. I got a few runs, Hardik the way he played and MS… It was a brilliant start with the ball on a wicket that was quite flat. That always pleases you as a captain.”

Kohli was also all praise for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who picked up two wickets in one over including that of Steve Smith. “You can’t take Bhuvi’s performances in the one-day format for granted. He’s a champion bowler and picks up wickets with the new ball and with the old ball. It was a game changer (the wickets of Smith and Stoinis in the same over). These guys are so experienced and professional, you hardly need to say anything to them. They know what to do. Their plans are being executed which is a very good thing for the team.”

Losing skipper Aaron Finch said, “They got 120 off the last 10 overs and which is a lot. We didn’t bowl well. With so much batting to come, makes it tough to stop. There wasn’t a huge amount on offer (help for the bowlers). We could have been straighter, dried up (runs) a little bit at times. They (India) bat very deep, you want to go for wickets. Just one of those games, they outplayed us.”

The Australian skipper was particularly livid about his dismissal which was a run-out after he started well with David Warner. “The wicket was a touch slow when we started to bat. He’s (Warner) a great batsman; he’s a world-class player. You back your partners, I could have said no as well. We were starting to pick up the tempo; that’s one mode of dismissal (run-out).”

Kohli comes in support of Smith

Indian skipper Virat Kohli says he apologised to Steve Smith on behalf of the fans after the former Australian skipper coped another round of “unacceptable” booing in the ongoing World Cup. Back after serving a one-year suspension for the infamous ball-tampering scandal in South Africa, Smith, despite a string of impressive performances, has been getting a hostile reception at every English ground at the marquee event.

During the clash with India, the fans booed Smith and chanted ‘cheater, cheater’ when the defending champions were fielding. Kohli urged them to calm down and instead cheer his batting. “I just felt for him, and I told him, ‘I’m sorry on behalf of the crowd because I have seen that happen in a few earlier games as well’. In my opinion, that’s not acceptable,” the Indian captain said. “Just because there are so many Indian fans here, I just didn’t want them to set a bad example, to be honest, because he didn’t do anything to be booed in my opinion. He’s just playing cricket,” Kohli said at the end of the match.

Kohli and Smith have had their run-ins in the past including the infamous ‘Brain fade’ controversy during a 2017 Test match in Bengaluru, when Smith was seen seeking help for a referral from the dressing room. The home captain was left fuming during that time. But on Sunday, the two were seen shaking hands after the former gestured the fans to show some restraint.

NT Bureau