Fri, Mar 27, 2015 - Page 20 News List

Smith bats Aussies to World Cup final

BIG TARGET:Steve Smith hit 105, before Shane Watson, James Faulkner and Mitchell Johnson contributed late to help the hosts post the first 300-plus total in a semi

AP, SYDNEY

India wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, left, looks on as Australia’s Steven Smith hits a four in their World Cup semi-final in Sydney, Australia, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Australia ended the reiging champions’ unbeaten run at the World Cup with a 95-run victory yesterday that ensured the tournament co-hosts will meet in the final.

Steve Smith scored 105 and shared a 182-run partnership with Aaron Finch (81) to help Australia post 328-7 against India, a record for a World Cup knockout match.

India started their chase confidently, with openers Shikhar Dhawan (45) and Rohit Sharma (34) surviving early scares to get the total to 76 in the 13th over, before Josh Hazlewood broke through to change the momentum of the innings.

Mitchell Johnson chimed in with two quick wickets and India was eventually out for 233, despite Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s late cameo of 65.

Australia will play unbeaten New Zealand in Sunday’s title match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

New Zealand edged Australia by one wicket in the pool stage to finish at the top of Pool A, then beat South Africa with a ball to spare in their semi-final in Auckland, New Zealand.

“To play a World Cup final against New Zealand at the MCG is going to be absolutely amazing,” Smith said. “Hopefully, another hundred would be nice.”

India had won 11 consecutive World Cup matches dating back to a pool-stage loss to South Africa in 2011.

They finished off the previous tournament with wins over the West Indies, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and then won their first seven matches in this year’s edition, becoming the only team to bowl out the opposition every time.

India had the majority of the support in the crowd with a huge contingent of traveling fans at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but were unable to capitalize at a venue where they have only once previously beaten Australia in a one-day international.

Australia won the toss and elected to bat, and the India pacemen started well, with Mohammed Shami beating the edge twice in the opening over and bowling a maiden in the third.

Umesh Yadav (four for 72) dismissed David Warner (12) to have Australia in trouble at 15-1 in the fourth over.

That brought Smith to the crease and he picked up where he left off in the pre-World Cup matches against India.

He scored a century in each of the four matches in the Test series and 47 in a one-day international during a stretch of two months when India did not win a match on Australian soil.

His second-wicket partnership with Finch gave Australia a flying start and a solid foundation, before India rallied with Yadav removing them both in quick succession.

Smith faced 93 balls, hitting 11 four and two sixes before Yadav struck with the first ball of his second spell, making the score 197-2 in the 35th over.

Finch continued with Glenn Maxwell, who belted 23 from 13 balls before sweeping Ravi Ashwin straight to Ajinkya Rahane at deep square-leg.

Yadav dismissed Finch in the next over and then Michael Clarke (10) was out to Mohit Sharma, slowing the Australia strike rate right down.

Shane Watson (28), James Faulkner (21) and Mitchell Johnson, who hit 27 from nine balls, contributed late to help Australia become the first team to post a 300-plus total in a World Cup semi-final.

“Smitty [Smith] is hitting the ball so sweetly and I was so proud of the execution of our bowlers,” Australia skipper Clarke said.

“I think that loss to New Zealand gave us a kick up the backside. I still don’t think we’ve played the perfect game yet. We know it’s going to be tough against New Zealand,” he said.

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