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India’s pace attack blunted by Australia in World Cup exit

March 26, 2015

SYDNEY (AP) — A bowling attack that had propelled 2011 champion India to a seven-game winning streak at the World Cup suddenly faltered for the first time in the tournament, but not for the first time on its long and arduous tour to Australia.

India was eliminated after a 95-run semifinal loss on Thursday, its hopes of successfully defending the title crashing in yet another loss to the Australians.

Coming into the semis, India was the only team to bowl out its opposition in every game, with pace bowlers Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma combining to capturing 42 of the 70 wickets.

Right-arm quick Shami had 17 wickets from six games to lead the pace trio, and was ranked third among the wicket-takers in the tournament, but could not find a much-needed breakthrough at the Sydney Cricket Ground as Australia piled on 328-7, which included a Steve Smith century.

Umesh Yadav (4-72) and Mohit Sharma (2-75) could only make late inroads as Australia gave up cheap wickets in the search of quick runs, after Smith (105) shared a 182-run stand with Aaron Finch (81) to guide Australia to a strong position.

“I felt our fast bowlers could have done slightly better because I knew in the second half there wouldn’t be much of a reverse swing,” captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said. “I feel at times we were slightly more up than where we should have been because this wicket was not similar to some of the other wickets that we have played.

“As I said, we could have done something better, but it doesn’t really matter now.”

India’s failure to blast through Australia’s batsmen was reminiscent of the 2003 World Cup final between the same nations at Johannesburg, South Africa.

Going into that game, India’s three pacemen were all among the leading 10 bowlers at the tournament, but in-form trio of Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath and Ashish Nehra finished wicketless in the final as Australia piled on a match-winning 359-2, including a masterful 140 not out by Ricky Ponting.

Thursday’s loss completed a miserable summer Down Under for India, which failed to win a competitive match in two months in Australia leading into the World Cup.

“We were here for close to over two months, and then we had another two months,” Dhoni said. “All in all, it was a tough one for us. The test matches didn’t go our way, the tri-series didn’t go our way.

“Disappointed we couldn’t go into the finals, but only one team can win, and I felt they played better cricket on the day.”

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