March 26, 2015

SYDNEY (AP) Michael Clarke's Australian lineup ended India's reign as World Cup champion with a 95-run victory that set up a showdown in the final with tournament co-host New Zealand.

Steve Smith scored 105 and shared a 182-run partnership with Aaron Finch (81) to help Australia post 328-7, a record for a World Cup semifinal, at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.

India started its chase confidently, with openers Shikhar Dhawan (45) and Rohit Sharma (34) rushing the total to 76 in the 13th over before Josh Hazlewood broke through to change the momentum of the innings.

Mitchell Johnson chimed in with two quick wickets as India slipped to 91-3, and the 2011 winners were eventually out for 233 in 46.5 overs despite Mahendra Singh Dhoni's late cameo of 65.

Four-time champion Australia will go into Sunday's decider at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as favorite despite its one-wicket loss to the unbeaten New Zealanders in a low-scoring thriller at Auckland in the group stage. New Zealand beat South Africa with a ball to spare in the semifinals to reach a World Cup final for the first time.

We '' played some outstanding cricket, Smithy's hitting the ball so sweetly and I was really proud of the execution of our bowlers,'' Australia captain Michael Clarke said. ''A lot of the guys sacrificed themselves for the team.

''We're proud to make the final but it's going to be tough against New Zealand.''

India had won 11 consecutive World Cup matches dating back to a group-stage loss to South Africa in 2011. Dhoni's team won its first seven matches in the 2015 edition, and was the only team to bowl out its opposition in every game before it ran into an Australian team that had dominated their bilateral exchanges this season.

''It's something that doesn't really belong to anyone. We definitely took it from someone, so somebody took it from us,'' Dhoni said of losing the Cup. ''The best team takes it for four years.

''If we would have played better cricket on this particular day, maybe we would have gone into the finals. But that's how it is.''

India had the majority of the support in the crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but was unable to capitalize at a venue where it has only once previously beaten Australia in a limited-overs international.

Smith went to the crease in the fourth over after Umesh Yadav dismissed David Warner (12), and he picked up where he left off in the pre-World Cup matches against India. He scored a century in each of the four matches in the test series and 47 in a one-dayer during a stretch of two months when India didn't win a match on Australian soil.

Smith faced 93 balls and hit 11 boundaries and two sixes before Yadav struck with the first ball of his second spell, making the score 197-2 in the 35th over.

Glenn Maxwell belted 23 from 13 balls before he was out to Ravi Ashwin. Yadav removed Finch in the next over and then Clarke (10) was out to Mohit Sharma, curtailing the strike rate before Johnson's late burst of 27 from nine balls helped Australia become the first team to post a 300-plus total in a World Cup semifinal.

''You get pressure chasing 300-plus,'' Dhoni said, ''Makes you do things you don't want to do.''

India had some early reprieves, with Rohit Sharma edging the fourth ball from Starc to Watson at slip but TV replays were inconclusive on the catch and he got the benefit of the doubt.

Dhawan was on five when he was dropped by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin off Hazlewood's bowling. He made the most of the let off, taking India past 50 in the 10th over with two boundaries and a six off three consecutive balls in James Faulkner's first over, but his departure in the 13th over triggered a major swing.

The Australian pacemen conceded just a single from 14 balls until Virat Kohli (1) was caught behind off Johnson. Then Sharma pulled Johnson for a six but was bowled next delivery.

Ajinkya Rahane (44) added 70 with Dhoni before he feathered a catch behind off Starc in the 37th over and was given out on review.

With the run rate required rising above 11 per over, two run-outs virtually ended India's chances.

Smith had Ravi Jadeja (16) out with a direct hit and Glenn Maxwell ended Dhoni's run-a-ball 65 with a long-range direct hit at the non-striker's end. Faulkner (3-59) and Starc (2-28) wrapped up the tail, with Starc raising his tournament tally to 20 wickets.

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