India triumphs Over Australia as Rohit Sharma's heroics steal the show in T20 clash

Rohit slams 92 off 41 as India beat Australia to enter semis, set up repeat of 2022 vs England
India skipper Rohit Sharma slammed his second fifty of the 2024 T20 WC during the Super 8s match against Australia.
India skipper Rohit Sharma slammed his second fifty of the 2024 T20 WC during the Super 8s match against Australia. (Photo| AFP)

CHENNAI: FIRE up your laptops. Start the EA Sports video game, and bat in a T20 match with India as your team. The conditions are hard at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, Gros Islet, St Lucia. And pick whatever level of difficulty you want. You are up against Australia. But worry not. Because this is the day Rohit Sharma shows up for you.

This is no exaggeration. Everyone knows when Rohit gets going, there are not many who make bowlers look as ridiculous as he does. It might not happen very often, especially in the shortest format. His T20I and IPL record is below-par compared to many others. But when it does, he toys with the best of the best. On Monday, it was Mitchell Starc’s turn.

It was only the third over of the Super 8s match between India and Australia. A lot is at stake in this contest, especially for the latter. On a surface that has had little help for bowlers this WC, Mitchell Marsh won the toss and put India in. The build-up for this match had been laced with India’s loss against the same opponent in the 2023 ODI WC final. Seven months later, the Men In Blue had the chance to help push Australia towards elimination.

As much as that was the narrative, players couldn’t get it in their heads. They need to stay in the present and continue with the template they have had so far; attack at all costs. This template has had its share of victims like Virat Kohli, but he and the team have persisted. Kohli continued the same when he tried to pull Josh Hazlewood in the second over to get out for his second duck of the tournament. And now, Rohit was up against Starc, who had conceded five runs in his first.

First ball of the third over, Starc pitched it full outside off-stump. Rohit stood there and lofted the pacer over the cover boundary. Six. Second ball, a littler wider. This time, Rohit went with the flow and sent it over cover-point for a six. Third ball, tonked above mid-on for four. Fourth ball, Rohit held his shape and lofted the fuller delivery over cow corner. 22 runs in four balls. But Rohit was just getting started.

He finished the over with another six, taking the tally to 29. As Hazlewood finished a quiet over, Rohit took on Pat Cummins in the next. First ball off the fifth over, the pacer was slog swept out of the ground — a 100m six that hit the roof. That is when rain interrupted the play briefly, but Rohit was in no mood to stop. He would hit Cummins for two more fours in the over, getting to his fifty in 19 balls. The scoreboard told its own story — India 52/1; Rohit 50*.

Now, this was not just some blind slogging and hitting big sixes irrespective of the lengths. Rohit was anticipating the lengths, he was playing with the fields. And of course, he had all the time in the world. To understand the zone Rohit was in, look at the three boundaries (two fours and a six) that came off Marcus Stoinis. Rohit charged at him first, and then created room to pull into the stands. The final shot — a step down the crease and loft through covers for a six. This was a day where one could only sit back and marvel at the ball striking of Rohit.

Rishabh Pant got out, but it didn’t matter. Suryakumar Yadav  (31 off 16) and Rohit kept going. They added 123 runs from 57 balls before Rohit got out on 92 from 41. The rest, including extras, contributed 82 (65) as India finished with 205/5 in 20 overs. The total was enough and India secured a 24-run win, thanks to Jasprit Bumrah (1/29) and Kuldeep Yadav (2/24). Australia will advance if Bangladesh beat Afghanistan by a margin that is lesser than 62 runs. Should the latter win, they will go through. Brief scores: India 205/5 in 20 ovs (Rohit 92, Yadav 31; Starc 2/45) bt Australia 181/7 in 20 ovs (Head 72; Arshdeep 3/37).

Unbeaten SA eliminate Windies, enter semis

North Sound: South Africa qualified for the semifinals of the T20 World Cup with a three-wicket win via the Duckworth Lewis method over West Indies in a rain-truncated Super 8s match. Put in to bat, West Indies rode on Roston Chase’s 52 off 42 balls to post 135/ 8. In reply, South Africa were 15/2 in two overs when rain stopped play. The match was truncated by three overs with South Africa being set with a revised target of 123 in 17 overs which they chased that down in 16.1 overs. Brief scores: WI 135/8 in 20 ovs (Chase 52; Shamsi 3/27) lost to SA 124/7 in 16.1 ovs (Stubbs 29; Chase 3/12, Russell 2/19).

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