World Cup 2015: Australia sets 329 to India

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In front of a strong Indian crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), Steven Smith and Aaron Finch rose to the occasion to help Australia post a formidable 328 for seven against India in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 semi-final.

Playing under pressure following a dry run, Finch battled it out for 81 as Smith’s ton laid a solid foundation. The Indian bowlers had a tough time for a major part of the innings, but did well to restrict Australia as they looked good for an even bigger score.

For a moment, you would have felt you were in Mumbai and not Sydney. There was a sea of blue outside the SCG in hours leading up to the game. You could hardly find the Australian supporters as the Indians had come in their numbers to back the team. Some said, the pressure was on Australia as this seemed a home game in an away setting.

But, once they won the toss and chose to bat, the onus was on them to set the pace and take control of the game.

India had an early ray of hope when Umesh Yadav had David Warner caught at mid-on as he top-edged one, trying to flick across the line. But then came the Smith-Finch stand of 182 runs that put Australia in command of the game.

Finch struggled initially, but Smith drove and flicked with ease. With Finch taking his time, Smith set the tone with his innings. The Indian bowlers rarely had an encouraging moment, apart from a review for leg-before which was turned down. Smith raced away to his ton and Finch was getting closer.

But then, India hit back with a few wickets. Having taken the batting powerplay early, Australia were looking to charge but they lost their way a touch.

In the 35th over, Yadav struck again as Smith pulled a short one to deep square-leg. Out came Glenn Maxwell, who threatened during his 14-ball 23, playing those trademark slogs over the leg-side.

However, his old foe, Ravichandran Ashwin had the better of him as Maxwell swept to the man in the deep at fine-leg. Finch fell next as Yadav had him caught at mid-wicket, attempting a pull. From 197 for one, Australia had slipped to 233 for four.

Michael Clarke walked in and there were a few overs where Australi slowed down. Yadav then got Clarke with another short one as me pulled it straight to mid-wicket.

Shane Watson and James Faulkner then had the task of getting some big runs and they did manage a few big hits during a brisk stand. But, India kept pegging Australia back to pin their hopes of getting a score over 330.

Australia may have hoped to get more, but in this knockout game, runs on the board are crucial and a score of over 300 is undoubtedly formidable.

Brief scores:
Australia 328 for 7 in 50 overs (Steven Smith 105, Aaron Finch 81; Umesh Yadav 4 for 72) vs India.

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