Difference between India and Australia is Ravichandran Ashwin, says Stuart Clark
Former Australia pacer Stuart Clark feels the advantage India have going into Thursday's semi-final is that they have "world class" off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in their ranks with the Michael Clarke-led side lacking a quality spinner.
Sydney: Former Australia pacer Stuart Clark feels the advantage India have going into Thursday's semi-final is that they have "world class" off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in their ranks with the Michael Clarke-led side lacking a quality spinner.
"I think one place where India has advantage over Australia in this game is presence of Ravi Ashwin in their side. He is a world-class bowler and Australia, particularly don't have a world-class spinner. Conversely, Australia will have guys who could be a bit quicker than their Indian counterparts," Clarke, who played 24 Tests and 39 ODIs for Australia told PTI during an interaction at the SCG, here today.
The 39-year-old, who had a dream Test debut for the Baggy Greens against South Africa, back in 2006, feels that in hindsight it might seem that Australia could have picked a specialist spinner.
"You can look at it in hindsight but they have picked their best 15. One has to understand that Australia do not have a frontline ODI spinner. Nathan Lyon has been a good Test spinner but has had very limited opportunities in one dayers," said Clark, who made his Test debut at the age of 30.
Clark, who had played his first-class cricket in Australia for New South Wales, possesses a good knowledge about the nature of the SCG wicket.
"It has more bounce than it used to be earlier with a lot more life now. No matter which team wins the toss, it should put up a big score as it will be hard to chase over here," he pointed out.
The Indian bowlers according to Clark showed a lot more intent after going through the motions in the tri-series.
"The Indian attack is much better than what we saw during the ODI series. There are numerous reasons for that. Firstly, there has been more intent in their performance. During tri-series, it looked as if they were going through the motions a bit. With World Cup starting, there is lot more intent in their bowlers.
"Secondly, Mohit Sharma is the real find for India, who has bowled well at different stages of the game. (Umesh) Yadav has also bowled well. Mohammed Shami has come into life in this tournament. (Mitchell) Starc and (Mitchell) Johnson are fractionally quicker but Indian bowlers are good in their own right," Clark, who now is the COO of New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL), said.
Clark also said that it will be a test for Australian team as he feels that majority of 45,000 capacity crowd at the SCG will be Indians
"SCG will have 45,000 people and majority will be Indian fans," Clark said.
On the Clarke and George Bailey issue, Clark's vote went in favour of the current captain. He feels that Clarke is still the undisputed leader of this Australian team at the moment.
"He (Clarke) is still the leader of the team and they want him. Michael has batted well at different periods. The only problem he had coming into the World Cup is that he was out of action for some time due to injury. Michael had to come back into the team and it's unfortunate that George has to miss out."
Asked where his vote would regarding captaincy once Clarke calls it quits, the paceman said, "I suppose George Bailey has done a wonderful job with the ODI team. But he is not in the team at the moment. You have got to look at it like this -- first you come in as a batsman and then become a captain. If you don't find your place in the side as a batsman, then it is hard to be captain of the side. My vote would go to Steve Smith."