COLOMBO - Allrounder Shane Watson claimed his third successive man-of-the-match award as Australia swept past India by nine wickets in their World Twenty20 Super Eights clash on Friday night.
Watson (3-34) and 19-year-old paceman Pat Cummins (2-16) helped restrict India to 7-140 before Watson (72 off 42 balls) and David Warner (63 not out from 41 deliveries) spanked India’s bowlers all around Colombo’s Premadasa Stadium.
Openers Warner and Watson shared a national-record partnership of 133 as Australia powered their way to 1-141 with 5.1 overs to spare.
Watson hit seven sixes, equalling a national record set by Warner twice previously.
Irfan Pathan was the biggest victim among India’s attack with 0-19 from one over.
But it was India’s decision to play frontline spinners Ravi Ashwin (0-32 off 3.5 overs), Harbhajan Singh (0-20 off four) and Piyush Chawla (0-14 off one) that backfired in the wet conditions.
Australia’s innings was interrupted briefly in the first over of their run chase by rain.
“There was no real grip for them,” India captain MS Dhoni said of the challenge faced by his slow bowlers.
“That was the main reason we were unable to put pressure on them.”
Watson said the Aussies were prepared for India to play three specialist spinners plus left-arm slow bowler Yuvraj Singh.
“India did go in with three frontline spinners so there’s also a chance there’s going to be some rain around, especially here in Colombo,” Watson said.
“You’ve got to make the most of conditions that you’ve got.”
Watson said Cricket Australia’s decision to rest him from the one-day series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in late August left him feeling refreshed mentally.
Watson returned to the national squad for the T20s against Pakistan in Dubai earlier this month, adding 111 for the first wicket with Warner in game three of the series.
“I came off a five-week break. It was a time I was able to get some physical strength and fitness but also have a bit of a mental break as well, to be able to hit this Twenty20 World Cup running,” Watson said.
“The games in Dubai were a brilliant lead-up for us to be able to adjust to the heat like we have here.
“At the moment a few things are falling my way nicely.
“We’ve certainly got the quality of players to be able to have a lot of success in this tournament.”
Australia’s second of three games in the Super Eights phase is against South Africa on Sunday night.