India put up an extremely disappointing performance at Sydney to bow out of the 2015 World Cup after having won seven games in a row going into the semi-finals. India lost opportunities to gain the ascendancy over the Aussies during the knockout more than once. Here's how India lost it.
Inability to capitalise on Warner's wicket: Team India were at a disadvantage having lost the toss. But, Umesh Yadav gave India a big breakthrough by dismissing David Warner early. However, the bowlers could not allow the pressure to build as Steven Smith and Aaron Finch consolidated. The duo was helped by some very poor bowling from the trio of Yadav, Shami and Mohit. Against Australia, they did not look like the bowlers who had been instrumental in bowling out opponents in earlier games.
Fight back, but no fight back: Thanks to Smith's pleasing ton and Finch's defiant 81, Australia had got themselves into a magnificent position to reach 350 plus. However, India's bowlers fought back well towards the end, dismissing Smith, Finch, Michael Clarke and Glenn Maxwell in quick succession. They had the momentum now, and a chance to restrict Australia to somewhere in the region of 310. Instead, they gave easy boundaries first to Shane Watson and then to Mitchell Johnson, the latter tearing the Indian attack apart in his cameo.
Throwing away a great start: 329 was always going to be an extremely difficult chase against the Aussies, but India had the men to do it. They began confidently, with Shikhar Dhawan, in particular, blazing away. But, the left-hander played a needless shot to be dismissed for 45, and that opened the floodgates for Australia. Virat Kohli played a terrible pull that landed straight in Brad Haddin's gloves. Rohit Sharma's lazy footwork again proved to be his undoing after he has just hit a six, and Suresh Raina gave catching practice behind the wickets.
Dhoni, Rahane leave in too late: At 108 for 4, the match was well out of India's grasp. But, Corey Anderson and Grant Elliott had pulled off a similar chase for New Zealand. Of course, Australia did not do any favours to India as South Africa did to the Kiwis, and the target for New Zealand was also on the lower side. But, it was India's attitude that was so disappointing. They gave up too soon. While Anderson and Elliott had batted sensibly at Auckland, they did exceedingly well to find the boundaries at key juncutres. MS Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane, however, just hung around neither rotating the strike, nor going for the big hits. It was a nothing partnership that multiplied India's misery. Eventually, Rahane fell poking at a wide one, and Dhoni was run out not attempting to make his crease after setting off for a quick single. The two dismissals were symptomatic of India's lethargic batting approach in the match.
--By A Cricket Analyst