In the second semi-final of the ICC World Cup 2015, an unbeaten Indian team will meet Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). Though on paper Australia are a robust unit, the world champions can still beat them to book a berth in the final.
Here are a few reasons why India have an upper hand over the Aussies.
Bowlers are on fire: Indian pacers, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma have bowled well thus far in ICC's flagship event. If Yadav is extracting good bounce and pace from the wickets in Australia and New Zealand and is looking intimidating, then, Shami’s line and length has been impeccable. The latter has also been among the leading wicket takers in this World Cup with 17 scalps under his belt. Mohit's entry in the tournament has proved to be a blessing in disguise for Team India as he has performed on every occasion. The pace trio has used the bouncer to good effect and are now set to give the Australians a taste of their own medicine.
Confident Indian openers: Both Indian openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have repaid the trust shown by the skipper MS Dhoni. Dhawan has been among the runs and played a special knock against South Africa, which was the toughest Pool match for India. On the other end, Sharma stood tall and delivered at a time when the team needed him the most, in the quarter-final clash against Bangladesh. Both are looking confident before the big clash against the Aussies. And if they both click, we know carnage would be on the cards.
No home advantage for Oz: India have been in Australia for around four months. After playing all forms of cricket here, they are well accustomed to the conditions. Apart from that, Indian supporters are thronging to the stadiums in outstanding numbers to support their team. On Thursday, it would be no different at the Sydney Cricket Ground, when India lock horns with the home team.
Big knock from Kohli due: Bedrock of Indian batting line up, Virat Kohli scored three outstanding tons during the Test series against the Aussies before the World Cup. In fact, he has a good track record against them. He is a big match player with a knack of rising to the occasion. Though he has looked in good nick throughout the tournament, a big knock is still due from his willow. And same is the case with Ajinkya Rahane, another solid top-order batsman in the team. So one can expect either Kohli or Rahane, or both, to give their knockout punch in the semis.
Fully fit squad: The biggest worry for the Indian team before the marquee event started was that of injuries. But Indian players, especially, speedsters have responded well so far and are looking fully fit. Indian bowlers have managed to bowl out their opponents in every match thus far in the tournament. And against Australia, MS Dhoni and the Indian think tank would preferably stick with the tried and tested eleven. In case of any exigency, the team can rely on the strength of the squad.
Mitchell Johnson not at his best: One of the most menacing bowlers in world cricket, Johnson, hasn’t looked at his intimidating best. In fact on occasions he has looked out of sorts. It’s certainly good news for the Indian batting line up. However, India would still have to be wary of other speedsters like Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.
Spin might haunt Oz at SCG: Sydney Cricket Ground is traditionally a spin-friendly track as compared to other wickets in the country. If we look at the Australian World Cup squad, it doesn't have a quality spin bowler. The absence of a leading spinner could go against the Aussies, especially considering India's proficiency against the turning ball. South African leggie Imran Tahir purchased a lot of spin from the SCG wicket in the tournament. India have spinners in R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who could give the Aussies a tough time in the middle.
After South Africa, now it’s Australia: In the group stages, India crushed one of the pre-tournament favorites South Africa. They simply outplayed the Proteas in all departments. And now they have to face probably the strongest World Cup team, at least on paper, Australia. Considering the red-hot form the defending champions are in, there is no reason why they could not upset the home team to reach the finals for the 2nd time in a row.
Team India’s winning streak: En route the semis, India have won seven matches on the trot. While, Australia have suffered a defeat at the hands of co-hosts New Zealand. In fact, in the last match, their batsmen struggled while chasing a modest total of 213 and looked vulnerable against the Pakistan pace attack. In the tournament, India has looked a complete side and are at par with the Aussies, if not stronger.