Sydney, March 25:
An undefeated India will face their biggest challenge of the cricket World Cup when they take on co-hosts and four-time champions Australia in the latter’s backyard at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) here on Thursday.
There has been a lot of talk about the match ever since the two teams made the last four during the previous week. Australian players have been playing mind games that their much touted pacers will deliver “short stuff” to Indian batsman, who are traditionally more comfortable playing off their pads.
Looking at the mind games being played by Australia and the calm displayed by the Indians, it gives one an idea how the two teams are preparing for the clash.
The Aussies also have not stopped short of reminding the defending champions of their dismal tour Down Under this Australian summer.
India lost the Test series 0-2 and did not even win a single match in the One-Day International (ODI) tri-series, also involving England.
However, come Thursday, the co-hosts will be facing the same men but with a different mentality and attitude. This Indian team is on a seven-match winning-streak, shoving aside everything that has come their way. It won’t be the same easy run that Australia had this summer.
The World No.1 side, on the other hand, have lost a match in this tournament, against New Zealand. The quarterfinal against Pakistan also showed that their batting order is brittle, something that Indian pacers would like to exploit.
India’s bowling has been the main reason for their success in the tournament. Pacers Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma have been brilliant.
They have done nothing extraordinary, just stuck to the basics by bowling on good line-and-length with accuracy and consistency.
The SCG wicket traditionally is slower in comparison to other pitches in Australia. The track could also prove to be friendly for Ravichandran Ashwin, who has been one of the best spinners of the tournament. The offie could prove to be the difference in the semifinal clash.
When it comes to the batting, the top order has struck for India. When they failed, the lower order came good, especially while chasing.
So the bottom line is that Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s top-six batsmen have shown their class and ability to get runs and they should be able to cope with the much touted Australian pace attack.
Don’t forget Rohit Sharma scored his double century against Australia and also a hundred in the tri-series before the World Cup.
The only thing that makes the match 50-50 is that Australia are playing at home. But they are not exactly happy that they are playing at the SCG and the stadium would be a blue of humanity.
For people who believe in statistics, they will easily bet their money on Australia. The co-hosts have won 12 of their 13 ODIs against India at the historic ground.
Also, Australia have never lost in the semifinals of the World Cup, having won five and tied one.
But come Thursday, it will be the on-field performances and not stats that will matter. (IANS)