Cricket World Cup 2011

Preview: Australia vs India

2011-03-24 10:20

Ahmedabad - They don't come much bigger than this: a clash of two of cricket's mightiest powers, one in great form, the other struggling.

India still bear the hallmark of "tournament favourites", but their batting has been shown to have weaknesses, and they are still struggling to find an opening bowler to support the mercurial Zaheer Khan.

Australia have struggled all through the tournament with their batting, with their invincible World Cup reputation in tatters after defeat by Pakistan in the group stages.

Their bowlers, Brett Lee aside, have struggled too, with particular weaknesses in the spin department.

Form guide

India: WLWWT
Australia LWWWW

Watch out for...

The batting Powerplay was conceived as an asset for the batting team, an aid in the pursuit of fast runs. In the months leading into the World Cup, it began to be a banana skin, with wickets falling as batsmen resorted to rashness during the fielding restrictions.

India have slipped spectacularly on it during the tournament, scoring 9 for 154 off 130 balls. During the batting Powerplay, India lost 1 for 32 against England, 4 for 30 against South Africa and 4 for 28 against West Indies, squandering positions of immense strength. Australia haven't mastered it either, making only 4 for 121 off 100 balls.

Those five tricky overs could make or break a campaign.

If the stakes weren't large enough to fire up Ponting, the talk about his captaincy and retirement will have strengthened his determination to end his form slump with a cathartic performance. Ponting has been dismissed by the short ball - a strength turned weakness - in this World Cup and by spin, a more traditional subcontinent susceptibility.

His composure has also been strained. Eight years ago to the day, Ponting ended India's World Cup dream in Johannesburg with a century of frightening brutality. He plans to watch videos of it in the hope that it will help him reproduce something similar in Ahmedabad.

Sachin Tendulkar watched that World Cup slip out of India's grasp as the bowlers conceded 359 in the final. He was then dismissed in the first over of the chase. The Player-of-the-Tournament prize was little consolation.

He has the opportunity to write a wonderful script - a 100th international century in a victory that will dethrone the World Champions. But cricket, like life, is never perfect.

Team news

Virender Sehwag missed the last group game because of an inflamed knee and India are keeping news of his fitness under wraps.

He batted on Tuesday and on the eve of the game as well, but Dhoni said they might wait as late as match morning to take a decision on his participation. If Sehwag does not play, India are likely to field the same XI that beat West Indies.

India (from): Virender Sehwag/Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir/Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, R Ashwin, Munaf Patel.

Australia have had an unchanged team since Michael Hussey replaced his brother in the XI, and they are likely to do the same against India.

The weakest links have been middle-order batsman Cameron White and offspinner Jason Krejza and potential replacements could be David Hussey and allrounder John Hastings.

Australia (from): Brad Haddin (wk), Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Cameron White/David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Steve Smith, Jason Krejza/John Hastings, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait.

Pitch and conditions

Australia played their World Cup opener at Motera, where they started slowly against Zimbabwe before accelerating to a formidable total. Ponting expected tomorrow's pitch to be similar to that one.

"It was pretty much what you'd expect for a subcontinent wicket: a little bit slower, spun a bit more in the second innings of the game maybe than the first," he said.

"We're going to send our coaches down late tonight to have a look at the ground and see if there's any dew about. I think it's supposed to be 41 [degrees] or something [similar], so it will be nice and hot for the boys out there."

Stats and trivia

India have lost their last four games in Ahmedabad. They batted first in three of those matches.

Brett Lee has 50 ODI wickets against India, the highest by an Australian bowler. Four of his nine five-wicket hauls are against India.

India have not won a game against Australia in a global tournament while chasing. Their last win against Australia in a World Cup was in 1987.

In 14 ODIs against India in India since 2007, Australia have won eight and lost five. 


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