Cricket World Cup 2019: India fans sing 'Are you watching Pakistan' as Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli shine in big win against Australia
Dhawan scores hundred and Kohli hits fifty as opponents find 352 too imposing a total to chase at The Oval
India might have been late arrivals at this Cricket World Cup, but they have hit their stride already. Five days after opening their account by dispatching South Africa, Virat Kohli’s big blue machine summarily ended Australia’s winning streak with a ruthless display at The Oval.
Shikhar Dhawan hit a century, Kohli himself made 82, and Rohit Sharma added a half-century to the ton he made in the opening match, as India amassed 352-5 from their 50 overs.
It seemed like a colossal effort on a used pitch and a big field, and so it proved as Australia – despite the confidence a 10-match winning streak infuses – fell 36 short.
The victors were bayed on by a crowd that was almost entirely clad in Indian blue, although the atmosphere did differ slightly from that which might be found at matches in Mumbai or Delhi.
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The Bharat Army, their supporter group, is mostly peopled by British Indians here, and they have appropriated many songs that otherwise might be found at football grounds.
When Hardik Pandya and Kohli were laying siege to Australia’s bowlers in the slog overs, the fans chanted: “Are you watching Pakistan?” And, then, to the tune of Gala’s Freed From Desire: “Pandya’s on fire, Pakistan are terrified.”
Minds, apparently, had already wandered to a week’s time when the two neighbours are due to meet at Old Trafford.
It needed David Warner and Steve Smith to focus the supporters’ minds back on the task in hand.
Warner’s popularity hardly improved when, in the second over, he became the latest batsman in this World Cup to profit from the sort of fortune that has become remarkably commonplace.
Facing Bhuvneshwar Kumar, he edged onto his boot, and the ball rolled back with some force into his leg-stump, yet the bails stayed on. It was the fifth time in the tournament so far that the Zing bails have failed to fall when the ball has hit the stumps.
When Smith arrived at the wicket, after Aaron Finch was run out for a brisk 36, the crowd roundly booed, and chanted: “Cheater! Cheater!”
Warner made 56, and Smith 69, to lay a platform for the Australians, but the rate they managed meant Australia’s late middle-order hitters were left with a huge task. It proved beyond them.
It was Australia’s first defeat since India themselves beat them in the second one-day international in Nagpur in March.
Back then, Australia had appeared to be a sinking ship, lurching from one crisis to the next. When they subsequently came from behind to win that series 3-2, it put in train a run of successes that meant they arrived at this World Cup as one of the favourites.
They might want to check that now, given how dominant India were in South London.
This felt like a statement by the 2011 champions. It was certainly a show of batting strength. Dhawan and Rohit put on 127 for the first wicket, Kohli and Dhawan 93 for the next, and then Kohli and Pandya had an alliance worth 81 in less than nine overs. If this is a side with a brittle middle-order, then they are doing a good job of hiding it.
All the Australia attack suffered. Mitchell Starc, fresh from a match-winning five-wicket haul against the West Indies last time out, went for 74 of his 10 overs. Adam Zampa and Marcis Stoinis went for 112 in 13 overs between them.
The defending champions needed a fast start. In Warner, it felt like they had just the man to give them it, but his stay was uncharacteristically sluggish, as he used up 84 balls from his 56.
As is typical, it was Jasprit Bumrah who put the task beyond the Australians with the ball. The fast bowler ended with 3-61 from his 10 overs, as the Indians closed out a second win at the start of their campaign.
Updated: June 9, 2019 10:01 PM