Australia will play fellow co-hosts New Zealand in the final of the 2015 Cricket World Cup, after beating defending champions India by 95 runs in Thursday’s semifinal at the Sydney Cricket Ground. After setting India a stiff target of 329 on the back of Steve Smith’s 105, Australia dismissed India for just 233 after 46.5 overs.

Australia had come into the tournament as the No. 1 ranked team in One-Day Internationals and the favorites to lift the trophy on home soil. But India surpassed expectations in winning all seven of their matches en route to the last four, and threatened to mount a stern defense of the trophy they won on home soil four years ago.

Yet it was Australia that maintained their record of never having lost a World Cup semifinal in now seven attempts. The momentum swung both ways, though, for much of the day at the SC, which hosted a crowd seemingly split evenly between Australia and India supporters. Those in blue had something to celebrate when Australia opener David Warner was dismissed for just 12. But the stylish innings of the in-form Smith proved key, and alongside him Aaron Finch battled along for 81 to give Australia a solid foundation. When that duo were going strong and even when Glenn Maxwell came into to blast the ball around, Australia looked like they could post a score close to 400. While India’s bowling bounced back, Mitchell Johnson hit 27 off just nine balls at the close of the innings to take Australia a long way clear of 300 and get a major late boost.

India’s pace bowling had impressed throughout the competition, to the surprise of many. But this was the first time the holders failed to bowl out their opposition in the World Cup, and the seam attack ultimately failed to match up to their opposition.

Still, there was reason for optimism as India started their chase. Opener Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma put on 76 after surviving some early scares. Dhawan was playing beautifully, but once he was dismissed off the impressive bowling of Josh Hazlewood, India never recovered. Star man Virat Kohli soon followed for just a single run scored and the wickets kept tumbling to leave India falling further and further behind the required run rate. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane steadied the ship, but they couldn’t produce the regular boundaries required. Dhoni, one of cricket’s great run chasers, was India’s last hope, but his run out courtesy of a fine throw from Maxwell effectively ended the contest. The result was confirmed when Mitchell Starc wiped out the stumps of Umesh Yadav.

Australia will now seek an unprecedented fifth World Cup title and revenge against their neighbors New Zealand, who came out on top when the teams met in the group stage. 


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