India had a luxury. They turned it into an opportunity. They had qualified for the semi-finals with a match to spare, one against a side like Australia. India took the opportunity to test out all the areas they even had the slightest doubts about and still went on to keep their winning momentum intact.
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A comprehensive 73-run win after bundling out the Aussies for a paltry 86 in 16.2 overs will only add to India's confidence going into the semifinal on Friday against the second placed team in Group 1.
India had not batted first in the tournament and with significant changes in the conditions due to the dew factor coming into play late in the evening, the bowlers had not had the opportunity to defend a total in testing conditions. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni lost the toss and India had to bat first on Sunday, and even though dew was absent --- none of the bowlers carried towels --- batting first when the ball does a bit under lights was a plus.
For once, Virat Kohli was out early and that gave Yuvraj Singh ample time to get his touch back.
Struggling to put bat to ball initially, the highest money buy in this IPL auction entertained the stands with some clean hitting like good old days. The hesitant running between the wickets, and the panic it caused among his partners at one point, appeared a lot more controlled once Dhoni joined him in the middle.
Consecutive sixes off leg-spinner James Muirhead, a wristy one over long-off off Michael Starc and a classy whip over mid-wicket off Shane Watson to bring up his half-century would spread relief among the fans. Yuvraj scored 60 off 43 with five fours and four sixes and shared an 84-run stand with Dhoni for the fifth wicket.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan's form was another area of concern, the left-hander having failed to get runs in the three matches.
Dhoni picked Ajinkya Rahane and even though it was Rohit Sharma at the other end who was dismissed early, thereby leaving some questions on the opening pair, a 16-ball 19 by the Mumbai batsman was still better though it takes away the left-right combination.
The Australia batsmen gave India enough catching practice under the lights, a problem area that Dhoni kept bringing up at every media interaction. Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja took two skiers each, Rohit took one running in from the deep and diving forward and Bhuvneshwar Kumar judged one to perfection at deep square-leg.
The other thing that remained a concern was bowling in the death.
The Australia batsmen were in no mood to make a match of it, as their injudicious shot selection showed.
Dhoni had saved Amit Mishra and Mohit Sharma for the late stages, and though the former got three overs, the Chennai Super Kings pacer who replaced Mohammad Shami on Sunday, got only two overs.
He looked impressive with Dhoni standing up to him and the ball that got Shane Watson bowled had cut in a long way. He could be one of the missing links Dhoni was looking for to bowl in the death in the business end of the tournament.