Cricketer of the week(March 23rd-29th): Steven Smith
After a thrilling first semi-final at Eden Park in Auckland, Australia took on India in the second semi-final of the 2015 World Cup at the Sydney Cricket Ground(SCG) on Thursday. Michael Clarke won the toss and chose to bat, but Umesh Yadav provided the Men In Blue with the early breakthrough, that of David Warner in the 4th over of the innings. In walked Steve Smith to join Aaron Finch and the duo set about their task to rebuild a solid platform for their side.
While Finch looked a bit shaky earlier on, Smith looked in imperious form, right from the word go, stroking the ball to all parts of the SCG. The 25-year-old was proving to be India’s nemesis once again as he kept the run flow going at his end.
He got to his fifty off 53 balls with a single off Ravindra Jadeja and then continued to pile on the misery on the Indians. He got his 4th ODI ton with a four of Mohammad Shami, his second fifty coming off just 36 balls. However, he couldn't add a lot to his tally after getting to the mark and in trying to smash one into the stand, got holed out in the deep to Rohit Sharma off the bowling of Umesh Yadav for a 93-ball 105 that was filled with 11 fours and 2 sixes.
That innings helped the Australians put up a total of 328 for 7 in 50 overs and thanks to some excellent bowling from Mitchell Starc and the rest, the Indians were bowled out for 233 in 46.5 over, thereby paving the way fro Australia to reach its seventh World Cup Final.
Steps up to the occasion in final – again
In the summit clash, the Australian bowlers once again stepped up to the plate and delivered a terrific performance, bowling out the Kiwis for 183 in 45 overs. Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner were the pick of the Australia bowlers, taking 3 wickets each as the Kiwis were dismissed for a below-par score.
In reply, the Aussies were in early trouble once again, losing Aaron Finch for a duck and it was up to Smith again to rescue the side.This time, the right-hander adopted a different approach as compared to against India, starting off slowly and letting David Warner go after the New Zealand bowling.
Once Warner was dismissed for 45, Smith increased the rate steadily along with his captain Michael Clarke. He survived a huge scare on the score of 16, when a Matt Henry-delivery hit into the stumps, but the heavier-than-usual Zing bails failed to fall on the ground.
He made full use of that opportunity and ensured that the game was taken away from New Zealand’s grasp. Smith got to his fifty with a brace off Matt Henry, the landmark coming in 66 balls.
After playing out a maiden off Tim Southee in the next over, Smith scored the winning runs for Australia in the 34th over of the innings that helped his side secure a seven-wicket win and also secure a fifth World Cup conquest.
Unreal summer for Smith
That knock brought to an end a quite unbelievable summer with the bat for Smith. He scored 769 runs in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against India, that included 4 centuries. Then he amassed 226 runs in 5 matches of the Carlton Mid Tri-series and followed that up with 455 runs in 14 matches of the 2015 World Cup at an average of 56.87, which included one century and four half centuries.
To add further glory, he also got an opportunity to captain Australia in Test Cricket in the absence of Michael Clarke and led them to a 2-0 win in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Australia would be hoping that he will continue his golden run of form in their next big challenge, which is the Ashes, to be hosted by England in July.