India is going to win because of the 70% crowd support on ground, they are undefeated so far in the world cup and pitch in Sydney traditionally support spinners (Australia got none). But wait, 13 ODI’s played between Australia and India at Sydney, 12 of them are won by Australia and Australia has never lost a world cup game in Australia this year as well. So who is going to win? Hard to predict, but rest assured that there will be lot of sledging during the game. In ICC Ranking, Australia is number 1 and India is number 2, so this is the final before the final. Its going to be very tough to beat the first semi final game, because that was the game of the world cup, but if Australia-India manage to produce better game, we are in for a treat. At least in terms of HYPE, this is going to be as good as it gets.
Just like De-Kock from S.Africa is a throw away wicket at the top, Aaron Finch is the same for Australia. He is either going to edge the ball going away or going to be lbw on the ball coming in. Best tactic that Indians can use in the first 10 overs are, bowl at the hip of the warner, give him easy single, let him get frustrated on the non-strikers end and bowl at the weaker opponent – A. Finch. Keep bowling outside the off stump, with one ball coming in as surprise-wicket taking ball. Warner should face less than 20 balls in first 10 overs – that is the target. Smith likes to walk across off stump and play on leg side, good. Bowl him outside the off stump in first 10 balls he faces to get the wicket. If Plan A does not work, go round the wicket. Have 5 fielders on the leg side. Attack his middle-leg stump. Beat him with the pace or lack of it. Use your challenge – umpire review if you are unlucky. If Warner is frustrated due to lack of strike, Ashwin will do his magic in 11th or 13th over. If Australia is down 3 wickets in first 15 overs, no matter the runs scored, no matter what, India wins, even if Maxwell go crazy. Clarke is nervous after Wahab Riaz spell. Get the short stuff working from pacers, that’s plan A. Plan B is Jadeja. Clarke will go dancing down the track against spinners. There is none better than Dhoni with stumping – watch out for hindi slang instructions to spinners in stump mike.
Can India run through Australia’s batting order? Sure, India has taken 70 wickets in 7 matches, so statistically and technically speaking, yes we can and most likely India will. However, question remains when. Whether Australia bats first or bat second, if India allow them over 250, its gonna be a challenge. Although, traditionally speaking, India performs good batting first, that may not be crucial. There are two reasons for it. India’s bowling is a weapon and its best use up front than later. Secondly, Virat Kohli is phenomenon in chasing and then there is no one better than M S Dhoni in finishing role. So, Batting first is preferred, but batting second may be better. As they say, it might be a good toss to lose.
What is Australia’s Plan? Get 2 wickets (at least) in first 10 overs. Starc’s plan A is to bowl on the top of the off stump, find an edge of Dhawan’s bat, Plan B outside off stump – wide but fuller delivery to find an edge to second slip, Plan C: short pitch ball. If that does not work, M.Johnson’s pace will be very handy. Only way Australia can win is to have a scoreboard read: 90/4. If India have Dhoni on the crease before 25th over, thats going to be the damage hard to recover from. Australia does not have a spinner on the most turning track of the country but they do have three left arm quicks (Starc, M.Johnson and Faulkner). It means there is at least one left arm fast bowler bowling throughout 50 overs from one end. Australia has variety of pace, accuracy of Hazelwood, Swing of Starc, Pace of M.Johnson, Slower ball of Faulkner and wicket taking ability of Watson. Even if they do not manage to take lot of wickets in first 20 overs, Clarke is a very aggressive captain and he will be using his bowlers wisely to take wickets or keep threatening with Plan B’s and Plan C’s.
In the batting department, Clarke is the key. He is the stability of otherwise all gun blazing batting order. Warner, Smith, Maxwell, Watson, Finch, they all are attacking batsman. They will look to take the attack and hence may give chance to bowlers-fielders. One person who holds the fort is Clarke. These batsman can revolve and keep attacking as long as Clarke is there. Clarke is also their best batsman against spin. Success of Australia depends heavily on how many overs Clarke bats.
Its a game of throne battle which will swing in either side many times, where heart says India will win but mind refuse to believe Australia can lose. 4 Players to watch out for are: Virat Kohli, Michael Clarke, R.Ashwin and M.Starc.