INDIA- 223/6(43 over)
Sydney: In top form after blowing away rival teams one after another, India will face their toughest test when the defending champions take on a formidable Australia in what promises to be an explosive semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup.
India (Playing XI): Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni(w/c), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma
Australia (Playing XI): Aaron Finch, David Warner, Steven Smith, Michael Clarke(c), Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin(w), James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood
MS Dhoni says he would have batted first as well. Everyone is fit so no change in the squad, Dhoni said.
Australia have won the toss and have elected to bat first. They are playing with same playing XI so no Xavier Doherty in the squad. Glenn Maxwell will be playing as a frontline spinner once again.
Experts say that India should bat first and score 300+ and put on early pressure on the Australians. So the toss is going to be very crucial.
According to the organizers, around 70% tickets have been bought by the Indian fans here. Therefore it is more likely to witness a ‘sea of blue’ rather than Golden SCG.
India confronts a side that has won seven of their 10 World Cup encounters against them. Although, the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led team had secured a five-wicket win in the quarter-final at home in Ahmedabad four years ago.
Indians fans in Sydney are very much ecstatic. They have already declared India as the World Cup winners. Fans from Melbourne have come to Sydney are saying that they came here to take Dhoni with them to Melbourne.
Australia has lost only one limited-overs international to India at the Sydney Cricket Ground, something of an enigma considering it’s the one venue in Australia which tends to favor spin, and dominated the bilateral test and ODI series leading up to the World Cup.
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.
Mitchell Johnson have warned India that he will continue the sledging while Steven Smith asked Indian bowlers to bowl bouncers at their own risk. Indian pacers have taken 43 wickets out of which 25 have been from short pitch deliveries.
The Aussies also have not stopped short of reminding the defending champions of their dismal tour Down Under this Australian summer.Aaron Finch suggested this week that the Indian squad might be scarred by their losses to Australia before the World Cup, an assertion Sharma and Virat Kohli both rejected Wednesday.
India batsman Rohit Sharma said his squad was prepared to fight fire with fire in which has forged its reputation on an aggressive, uncompromising brand of the game.
David Warner’s savage attack against Mohammed Shami’s probing length or Michael Clarke’s years of experience against Ravindra Jadeja’s restrictive lines also has ingredients of a blockbuster. Not to forget Mitchell Starc’s guile against Virat Kohli’s flair.
Left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty, the only specialist slow bowler in the Australia squad, went wicket-less in the only game he has played at the tournament — against Sri Lanka at the SCG.
Expect a few battles inside the main battle. It could be between Ravichandran Ashwin’s carrom ball against Glenn Maxwell’s pyrotechnics.
One of international cricket’s fiercest rivalries will resume after six weeks when Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men will get down to business against Michael Clarke’s team which will be supremely competitive with some high-quality performers in their ranks.