Cardiff: In a sensational display of disciplined fast bowling, India knocked Australia cold in a warm-up match the Swalec Stadium here on Tuesday. Umesh Yadav took five for 18 as Australia collapsed to 34 for six wickets by the end of the 12th over, never to recover again in pursuit of a 309-run target. India won by a massive 243 runs, their second victory is as many practice matches, ahead of their first ICC Champions Trophy game against South Africa on Thursday. On Saturday, India had defeated Sri Lanka by five wickets at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
Yadav bowled the right lengths as Australian batsmen played loose strokes too early in the innings. Matthew Wade and Phil Hughes were bowled playing across the line to fuller balls while David Warner was caught at first slip playing an expansive drive. (Read: Big wins in warm-ups mean nothing, says R Ashwin)
Australia missed their injured captain Michael Clarke as stand-in skipper George Bailey was beaten by pace and late movement while the in-form Shane Watson dragged the ball onto his stumps trying to cut. Mitchell Marsh got a faint inside edge that landed in the keeper's gloves as the Australian 'procession' confounded pundits of the game. Australia are the defending champions of the tournament, last played in South Africa in 2009. Except Hughes (14) and Adam Voges (last man out for 23 off 49 balls), none of the top seven batsmen got into double digits. (See: Match in pics)
Ishant Sharma joined the party with a three-wicket haul as the Australian tail did not trouble the scorers at all. Thus, Team India completed a win they never imagined would come so easily. Australia were all out in the 23.3 overs. (Also read: Dhoni rocks despite controversies, says Shoaib Akhtar)
Earlier, a 211-run sixth wicket stand between Dinesh Karthik (146 not out) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (91) helped India post a respectable 308 for six. India scored exactly 100 runs in their last 10 overs as Australia failed to turn the screws after polishing off five top Indian wickets for only 55 runs. (Read: I'm not the leader of Indian pace attack, says Ishant Sharma)
Like India's first warm-up game, the lower middle-order batsmen saved the blushes with both Karthik and Dhoni magnificently pacing their 191-ball partnership on a track that had plenty for the batsmen. Karthik's back-to-back centuries, he scored an unbeaten 106 in Birmingham against the Sri Lankans on Saturday, will only help him improve his chances for a slot in the playing XI when India take on South Africa in their Champions Trophy opener here on Thursday.
The quality of the Australian attack was always going to be a challenge and India's top batsmen failed to take the fight into the enemy camp after Dhoni won the toss and chose to bat. Predictably, Australia unleashed their fast bowlers with Mitchell Starc and Clint McKay doing the early damage with two wickets apiece in their first spells.
Except for Murali Vijay, who was unlucky to be ruled out LWB after getting a faint edge (there is no DRS in warm-up games), India's top batsmen paid for poor shot selection. In a warm-up game, it was important to spend time in the middle but India's young Turks preferred flamboyance over pragmatism.
Kohli, basking in the glory of his 120-ball 144 against Sri Lanka in the first warm-up game in Birmingham, made a telling start. The Delhi batsman on-drove Starc for a classy boundary off the third ball he faced. It was sheer timing as Kohli used the pace of the left-arm seamer, who pitched it up to the new man at the crease.
Kohli was quickly growing in confidence, cleverly finding gaps towards the Cardiff Castle side that had the longer boundaries. In consecutive matches, he ran four singles and seemed to be in good nick till his luck ran out. Flicking a Starc delivery outside the leg stump, Kohli edged to keeper Matthew Wade, scoring 9 off 12 balls.
India lost Rohit Sharma (10 off 14 balls) and Suresh Raina (0) in quick succession. At the end of the 10th over, India plummeted to 39 for four. Sharma was the third to exit, misjudged a rising Clint McKay ball outside off-stump, shouldering arm only to drag it onto his wickets while Raina shuffled across to a low Starc delivery that rattled his unattended leg and middle sticks.
Dhawan took his time to settle down. The Swalec Stadium wicket was nice and firm. The ball came onto the bat and the batsmen just needed to apply themselves. Dhawan did that for a while till he it blew that away hooking a short of length delivery from Mitchell Johnson. He was caught at mid-on scoring 17 off 39 balls (2 x4s).
India's path to recovery was left to Karthik and Dhoni. The skipper took the initiative to look the Aussies in the eye, slamming Shane Watson for a six and hurting Mitchell Marsh's right shoulder with a full-blooded drive. The duo prospered even as stand-in skipper George Bailey kept rotating his six fast bowlers. The 50 of the Dhoni-Karthik partnership came off 62 balls, the skipper clearly the aggressor with a breezy 30.
India used their batting power-play well, scoring 38 runs in five overs (34th to 39th overs). During this phase, Karthik completed his 50, the knock coming off 81 balls and laced with five boundaries. The roles had clearly reversed during this period. Dhoni let Karthik prevail as the 28-year-old from Chennai shifted gears, even flicking on the rise a Faulkner delivery for a six.
The skipper was not to be left behind as Dhoni raced to his 50 off 58 balls. It was studded with three fours and two sixes, the second coming off an expensive Marsh over that produced 22 runs.
A flurry of fours and sixes took India past 200 (252 balls, 17 fours and four sixes). With the wicket easing out, India needed to put more runs on the board. The Dhoni-Karthik stand swelled to 150 off just 154 balls, the last 50 runs coming in 27 deliveries.
As the innings was drawing to a close, India's strike rate improved considerably. The 200 partnership came off just 182 balls as Karthik (17 x 4s, 1 x 6) and Dhoni (6 x 4s, 4 x 6s) demonstrated an array of strokes, including the captain's trademark helicopter shot, around the park much to the delight of about 1000-odd fans, mostly Indian expats.