Given the way India held its own into the semi-finals of the cricket World Cup 2015, crumbling under pressure in Thursday’s match with Australia made for a hugely disappointing finish. It is difficult to say where exactly India lost the plot. In the Australian innings—the ‘roos won the toss and elected to bat—the Indian bowlers seemed to be doing a fair job right until the last ten overs, when the Australians began a round of sound thrashing, in keeping with their remarkably consistent batting performance this tournament. The Australian team delivered a wonderful batting performance, knocking off 300 runs in 290 balls and finishing with a total of 328 for the loss of seven wickets. How consistent the team was is reflected in the made-to-measure strike rates of nearly everyone who batted—AJ Finch did have his fair share of dot balls, but he mustered a score of 81, which was key to his side’s win. The Indian innings, in contrast, was consistent only in the sense that it never saw a rise in tempo, except for the relatively short appearances of Shikhar Dhawan and skipper MS Dhoni. The Indian batting line-up, especially the lower order—much like our fast-bowlers—failed to rise when the need was the greatest. Ergo, India made 200 runs off 245 balls (the Aussies had as much off 206 balls) and bowed out with a total of 233, with the last few runs added by bowlers R Ashwin and M Shami.
Nevertheless, the overall Indian campaign this World Cup wasn’t an unexciting one. Few believed the team to make it past the round robins but it put up a good show right up to the quarter-finals, defeating worthies like Pakistan and South Africa. But for a team that excited the nation’s imagination, that is just a consolatory note.