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Australia knock defending champs India out of World Cup

Last updated on: March 26, 2015 17:54 IST
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Australia's James Faulkner celebrates with Michael Clarke after taking two wickets during the World Cup semi-final match against India at Sydney Cricket Ground. Photograph: Daniel Munoz/Getty Images

Steven Smith's sublime century laid the groundwork and Australia's pace bowlers finished the job to send the co-hosts storming into a seventh World Cup final with a 95-run victory over champions India on Thursday.

Australia move on to the Melbourne Cricket Ground and a shot at a fifth title against New Zealand on Sunday, while India head home after four months Down Under having come up short in their bid to retain the title they won four years ago.

Scorecard

- World Cup PHOTOS: Australia vs India, 2nd semi-final at SCG

Smith's 105 helped Australia to a total of 328 for seven, the highest in a World Cup semi-final, and although skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit a defiant 65 in what might be his final One-day innings, India were dismissed for 233 in the 47th over.

India might have fancied their chances of chasing the target down after making a solid start on a good pitch in perfect weather conditions and backed by the majority of a noisy crowd of 42,330 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood had other ideas, however, and they tore the heart out of India's top order by sending Shikhar Dhawan (45), Virat Kohli (1) and Rohit Sharma (34) back inside six overs.

When James Faulkner, who had been hammered for 23 runs by Dhawan in his first two overs, got into the act by dismissing Suresh Raina (7), India had lost four of their most coveted wickets for the addition of just 32 runs to fall to 108-4.

Johnson's bowling was as potent as it has been all tournament and the delivery that clean bowled Rohit a ball after the opener had the temerity to hit him for six sent one bail flying 20 feet behind the stumps.

Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane (44) set about rebuilding the innings with a partnership of 70 but when the captain was run out ambling down the wicket by a direct hit from Glenn Maxwell, the die was cast.

Faulkner added a flourish by bowling Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohit Sharma in successive deliveries to finish with 3-59 but Umesh Yadav blocked the hat-trick ball.

Steven Smith

Australia's Steven Smith hits out on way to scoring a hundred in the semi-final against India at the SCG. Photograph: Steve Christo/Reuters

Earlier, on a good Sydney Cricket Ground pitch, in perfect weather conditions, Smith came back to torment India in a partnership of 182 with opener Aaron Finch (81) to lead Australia to a comfortable position with close to 200 runs on the board, nine wickets in hand and over 15 overs to bat.

With Umesh Yadav (4-72) to the fore, however, India struck back to remove the power-hitters in Australia's middle order and disrupt their attempt to plunder runs in the later overs.

"I think it's a good total, we're going to have to bowl and field well though," said Smith.

"At the start, if you're offered 330, I reckon you take that nine times out of 10. It's going to be about squeezing and hopefully the bowlers can do a job for us.

"It's always nice getting hundreds at the SCG and hopefully the boys can back it up in the field now."

Smith had come to the crease in the fourth over after Yadav had bounced out opener David Warner for 12 and rarely looked troubled for the remainder of his 122-minute knock.

The bouncers were pulled, he called for a cap when the spinners came on and hit 11 fours and two sixes to give India a rude reminder of his prolific form in the test series around New Year, when he scored a century in all four matches.

The 25-year-old secured his fourth straight half century at the World Cup in 53 balls and was soon surging towards his fourth ODI century, which he secured with a six and a four off successive balls.

Finch at the other end was looking less assured as he sought to end his run of poor form but he too reached the half century mark before his partnership with Smith was broken in the 35th over.

Yadav again did the damage, his bouncer cramping Smith as he attempted the hook with the ensuing top edge flying to Rohit Sharma at deep square leg.

Glenn Maxwell came out ahead of his skipper Michael Clarke and hit a brisk 23 off 14 balls before sweeping a Ravichandran Ashwin delivery to Ajinkya Rahane at deep backward square leg.

The crowd, the majority wearing the blue of India, were roused and Finch soon departed as Yadav's third victim with Clarke (10) and James Faulkner (21) following him back to the dressing room as Australia tumbled to 284 for six.

Even the experienced partnership of Shane Watson and Brad Haddin (seven not out) was unable to steady the ship as Australia tried to balance the imperative of scoring quickly with making sure they did not run out of batsmen.

Watson departed for 28 to give Mohit Sharma his second wicket and it was left to paceman Mitchell Johnson to bolster Australia's tally closer to a par score with his 27 not out off nine balls.

It was the first time in eight matches at the World Cup that India had failed to dismiss their opponents.

- The World Cup, as never before on Rediff.com

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