The semi-final clash between India and Australia is all set to happen on 26 March in Sydney. Before the tournament started, not many would have expected such a line-up for the Sydney game considering how woeful India was in the matches that preceded the quadrennial tournament. However, now the team is here and the stage has been set for what can be an enthralling contest if both the teams play to the best of their ability.
What Does This Game Mean for Both the Teams?
Australia must be keen on adding its name once again in the list of World Cup winners, and the semi-final presents a good chance to take another step towards that goal. The team will also be pumped by the fact that it was defeated by India in the last World Cup game between both the sides – the quarter-final played in Ahmedabad. So, there would be some intentions to avenge the loss as well.
For India, this tournament has been about proving a lot of people wrong. The team has played well and performed in crunch situations to get to where it is now. If the Dhoni-led team is able to win this tournament, it will be able to prove that the victory in 2011 was no flash in the pan. Winning the semi-final game would be a decisive step in that regard. Also, it was blanked by Australia in the tests and the limited overs tri-series that followed. So, a win could be deemed as a nice payback of sorts.
Effect of Conditions
The game will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground where the pitch is slower compared to rest of the grounds in Australia. In theory, India, with its spinners and seamers suited to bowling in slow and low conditions, would feel more at ease. However, it is only a theoretical advantage – India will need to play canny cricket in order to drive home the perceived lead.
Key Players for Both Teams
Australia is an all-round team with plenty of depth in both departments. In batting, Warner, Watson and Maxwell have been the mainstays with consistent scores and some coruscating stroke-play. However, it is the fast bowling department that is its biggest weapon of Australia with Starc leading the attack admirably. Johnson and Hazlewood, who is likely to play, have been among wickets as well and that will certainly act in their favour.
For India, every player has made some telling contribution at some point in the tournament. So, it is rather hard to pick a player or two as such. However, one feels that Dhoni, Kohli, Shami and Mohit Sharma could be the players to watch out for in this game.
Windows of Opportunity
For the Indian team the main targets while batting would be Maxwell, Watson, and Faulkner – the backup bowlers. If the batsmen can get big overs against these bowlers they will be able to play the main bowlers with some assurance and not lose their wickets.
From Australia’s point of view, Ravindra Jadeja could be targeted considering the fact that he is yet to come into his own in the tournament with the ball. They will also look to get into verbal jousts with Virat Kohli to get him out early. It is up to Kohli to make sure that he does not lose his cool, and subsequently the plot.
If someone would have said before the tournament began that India would face Australia in the semis, people would have said that India will be blanked by the Aussies. Now, many fans are eagerly looking forward to the game and this represents the progress made by the Indian team en route the semis. Now, it is up to them to keep moving ahead.