Old rivalry in a new territory
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012 02:09
Ever since the turn of the millennium, Australia has been the most dominant team in world cricket. But every time their invincibility started to rise, one team has always stood in their path and thwarted them – India. Starting from the streak of 15 consecutive test match victories which was thwarted by India in 2001 till the most recent one in 2011 where India ended Australia’s world cup dominance. So when India faces Australia in a competition, it’s always personal.
It’s the World Cup T20 in Sri Lanka. Australia takes on India in their first Super-8 group match. Australia eased to a win over Ireland and then with the help of the rain gods got the better of the mercurial West Indies. India, on the other hand, huffed and puffed their way to beating Afghanistan and comprehensively mauled England. They have faced each other twice in the World T20 format and the spoils have been shared.
The 22 yard strip on which the game is played has been the most important factor in the tournament. The RPS stadium is where India spun a web around England. But the rain and overcast conditions for the last few days has got the pace bowlers up and running in the tournament. There seems to be a lot of bounce and carry for the bowlers on the surface and this is right down Australia’s backyard. However, since there will be no rolling on the pitch, the surface may crack after the first innings and bring the spinners into play for the second innings. India being a spin heavy attack and Australia a pace heavy attack, the way the conditions are on Friday may just be an indication of who will win the game. An intriguing battle, none the less.
Australia will most certainly name an unchanged squad with one spinner, Brad Hogg. The temptation may be there to play David Hussey instead of Glenn Maxwell, which will give the Aussies an added spin option and an explosive lower order bat.
India made 3 changes for the England game, dropping Virender Sehwag, Ravi Ashwin and L Balaji for Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla and Ashok Dinda. Dinda and Chawla will most certainly make way for Sehwag and Ashwin with India going in for a 2 pacers-2 spinners bowling attack. But it remains to be seen if the captain, MS Dhoni wants to play the extra seamer if the conditions demand so. Sehwag will definitely open the innings along with Gautam Gambhir and Irfan Pathan will drop down to the lower order. This will definitely be India’s best batting line up in any format with all 11 players capable of having a go at any bowler. Harbhajan, Ashwin and Pathan are definitely three batting options that Dhoni can count on. So the big question remains whether Dhoni will drop a batsman- Rohit Sharma and play Balaji/Dinda.
Indian pace attack vs. Australian openers: Shane Watson and David Warner is by far the most explosive batting pair in this tournament. The Indian pacers have shown poor bowling skills and have been carted to all parts of the field. If the opening pair gets going, then India has no way back. One or two early breakthroughs are important for the Indian spin attack to exploit the weakened Aussie middle order.
Verdict: Heart says India but my mind says Australia. India has not yet clicked as a team. Australia are raring to go and seem to be on a roll. But MS Dhoni has the Midas touch. Who knows what will happen? So unless the rain gods decide to show up, expect some fireworks to fly!!