Cricket World Cup 2011

Aussies aim for Indian throats

2011-03-22 09:41

Ahmedabad - India will go into their World Cup quarter-final against current champions Australia on Thursday expecting to be on the receiving end of some fiery fast bowling.

Gallery: Proteas on top at CWC 2011

The co-hosts go into this game on the back of an 80-run victory over the West Indies in Chennai.

Australia's previous match saw the end of their 34-game unbeaten World Cup run, courtesy of a four-wicket defeat by fellow quarter-finalists Pakistan.

However, the way West Indies fast bowler Ravi Rampaul took five wickets, including the prize scalp of Sachin Tendulkar with a lifting delivery, has revived the debate about India's ability to handle short-pitched bowling.

Australia almost have no choice but to see if the old cliche holds true, given an attack built around the fast bowling trio of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson.

Off-spinner Jason Krejza managed just a lone wicket against Pakistan - courtesy of a ludicrous slog by skipper Shahid Afridi - and has taken only two top six wickets in six matches.

And the fact Australia captain Ricky Ponting did not bowl Steven Smith at all in defence of an under-strength total of 176, spoke volumes about his faith in the all-rounder's leg-spin.

Yuvraj Singh, whose century against the West Indies followed on from a trio of fifties earlier in the tournament, said it was clear where Australia's bowling strength lay.

"They have pace and get wickets with pace. We have to be prepared for it and we'll see what happens in the quarter-final."

Yuvraj, also a handy left-arm spinner, said it was a myth India batsmen were especially vulnerable when the fast bowlers dug the ball in.

"I don't think there's an issue with the short ball. If you have an issue with the short ball you won't be the number one Test team and number two ODI (one-day international) team in the rankings."

Ponting goes into the match with his position as captain in doubt.

The Sydney Morning Herald claimed on Tuesday that there was stiff opposition at boardroom level to the 36-year-old retaining the job for next month's tour of Bangladesh, although his position as a player was not in jeopardy.

"We need to be looking at the future. It's time for us to make a change," the newspaper quoted the official as saying.

Ahead of the World Cup, Ponting earned the dubious distinction of becoming the only Australian skipper to fail to win the Ashes three times, putting him under enormous pressure.

He has also done himself no favours in India, taking a reprimand from the ICC after smashing a dressing-room TV in a fit of fury after being run out during Australia's World Cup win over Zimbabwe.

He was also criticised for angrily throwing the ball to the ground after colliding with Smith during their victory over Canada.

Then his sportsmanship was questioned when he failed to walk in Saturday's defeat to Pakistan.

India, who beat Australia by 38 runs in a warm-up match in Bangalore, have got themselves into several good position this tournament, only for their batsmen to throw it away.

One example is the nine wickets they lost for 29 runs in defeat by South Africa, while seven went for 50 runs against the West Indies.

But if fast-scoring opener Virender Sehwag, set to return from a knee injury, gets going, the middle-order may not be an issue.

Australia have batting problems of their own, with both Cameron White and Ponting, who scored a blistering century in the 2003 World Cup final win over India in Johannesburg, struggling for runs.

Ponting managed just 102 runs at 20.40 in six Group A matches, and the 36-year-old hasn't made an international century for 13 months.


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