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India beat Australia In Thriller After Kohli Massive Innings

With 67 needed off the last six overs, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni joined hands in what was turning out to be a tricky chase. The match had meandered on till then, swinging one way and another.

Australia had a fantastic start with the bat, before India pulled things back, they had a rousing finish but India had a brisk start as well. India's chase was motoring along satisfactorily before Yuvraj Singh's injury applied the brakes on it.

Through it all, India were facing the heat and it was showing. There were angry gesticulations all the while, Kohli was getting increasingly frustrated in a 38-ball stand with Yuvraj during which many a double was missed.

But all that mattered for little when these two joined hands. Not for nothing are they regarded as two of India's best chasers in history. But even Kohli was feeling the heat at that point. What followed, however, was a masterclass of running between the wickets and of chasing down a target.

A critical point of their partnership was the obvious intensity with which both of them ran the second run (six in all) apart from hitting the boundaries. That relieved the pressure on Kohli, who then went on a boundary-rampage, even as the asking-rate was over 10 runs per over.

At the end of it all, as Dhoni finished with a boundary through mid-wicket, an exhausted Kohli just dropped to his knees. This was probably his most tiring knock. He slammed 82 (off 51 balls) and battled exhaustion.

India had managed to clinch the crunch game against Australia to enter the semifinal of the ICC World T20 2016 with a six-wicket win at the Punjab Cricket Association Ground in Mohali on Sunday (March 27).

If the finish was an exhilarating one, Australia's start with the bat was not inferior. They opted to bat on a pitch that had a greenish tinge to it. Both teams went in unchanged and Steven Smith had the luck with the spin of the coin.

In opting to bat, Smith echoed Dhoni's reading of the pitch as well. Both captains reckoned that the pitch would slow down as the game progressed.

It was a 40-over pitch after all, and they weren't wrong in the reading. It did slow down even as Australia's innings progressed but for the first few overs, Australia seemed to be running away with the game. Usman Khawaja reeled off a series of pulled boundaries as Jasprit Bumrah was clobbered for 17 runs in his first over, the second of the innings.

And as is the norm these days, Dhoni had to turn to his go-to man in such situations - Ravichandran Ashwin. Many a time, the offspinner has bailed the team out from a weak start by picking wickets, but today was different.

Aaron Finch, the man who was dropped for Australia's first two games, took it upon himself to take on Ashwin, and did it splendidly well. His powerful shots over long on saw Ashwin conceding back-to-back sixes in an over that cost him 22 runs.

Australia's fifty came up in just the fourth over. Australia's manic start just turned the heat on India. The start had rattled them. But even through this period, it was the veteran Ashish Nehra who had managed to keep it tight at one end.

He had beaten Khawaja with away swingers in his first over and it was he who finally got rid of the threatening opener, with a caught-behind in the fifth over.

But the threat of Finch still loomed large at the other end and with Ashwin losing his shape repeatedly, it seemed that Dhoni would be powerless. Ashwin did get some respite when he managed to beat David Warner in flight to get a wicket, but his two overs cost 31 runs. Australia, despite the loss of two wickets, had racked up 73 in the first eight overs.

Needless to say, India were in dire need of some control. With the pitch beginning to slow down, India found the right men in Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya to pull things back.

The next four overs shared by the trio saw only twenty runs being scored, with Yuvraj picking up the wicket of Steven Smith with his first ball. The Australian skipper though was unlucky to have been adjudged out after missing a long-hop.

Replays indicated that there was enough reason for Smith to walk off shaking his head vigorously in dismay. There was no edge but India had got lucky at this point.

Smith had expertly steered the innings through the middle overs in the previous game against Pakistan on the same ground. Finch contrived to face only seven deliveries in this period and soon, he too was out caught pulling to deep mid-wicket. India slowly wrested control with Pandya's cutters proving to be difficult to put away for the likes of Glenn Maxwell.

The pitch was puffing up dust now and then. Clearly it wasn't one for the stroke-makers to be able to go helter skelter at this point. Maxwell and Shane Watson managed only three fours and a six between them in the 44 balls that they faced but the duo kept Australia ticking along as a score of close to 150 beckoned.

With Bumrah finding his touch back in the death overs, the boundaries dried up gradually until Peter Nevill hit a six and a four off the final two balls of the innings to dent Pandya's figures. Despite that finish, India would have gone in a slightly relieved side. The target of 160 still kept them in the game.

But the chase wasn't going to be an easy one on a pitch where the ball was sticking to the wicket. In such a scenario, Josh Hazlewood's extra pace allowed the openers to breathe easy. He was hit for 26 runs in his first three overs that clouded over the dot balls stacking up from the other end.

Shikhar Dhawan fell to a short ball from Nathan Coulter-Nile, top-edging it to short fine leg. Rohit Sharma fell soon after, bowled after jumping down against Shane Watson and missing. But evidently, it was Kohli who was going to be key for India in the chase. He started with a couple of sweetly-timed boundaries against Hazlewood and saw Raina falling prey to a Watson short ball.

The wickets were falling regularly but India were still managing to go at over run-a-ball. Yuvraj Singh twisted his ankle after facing only three balls. In a ground with big outfields, running between the wickets assumed bigger importance, and the left hander's injury prevented India from capitalising on the same.

The innings was being dragged along by Kohli even as Yuvraj was dragging his ankle injury as far as possible. The asking rate rose past 10 per over at this stage. Yuvraj's painful innings came to an end courtesy a brilliant diving catch by Watson at cover.

The missed doubles had got to Kohli as well by this time and he didn't hide his emotions while missing out on them. In the 38-ball stand between Kohli and Yuvraj, there were at least four chances of doubles missed because of Yuvraj's injury.

But then, all that was quickly forgotten after redemption came through the Kohli-Dhoni stand, which ended as a cruise but started off in rocky waters.

By putting their head down and speeding through, India now move on to face West Indies in the second semifinal at Mumbai on March 31 while Australia, despite a hard fight, find themselves ending their campaign in Mohali.

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