In top form after blowing away rival teams one after another, India will face their toughest test when the defending champions take on a formidable Australia in what promises to be an explosive semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup on Thursday.
One of international cricket’s fiercest rivalries will resume after six weeks when Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men will get down to business against Michael Clarke’s team which will be supremely competitive with some high-quality performers in their ranks.
While the Ashes rivalry has history attached with it and India-Pakistan contests have their own political flavour, the India versus Australia rivalry has been equally intriguing in recent years where an inch won’t be given without a bullish fight.
Expect a few battles inside the main battle. It could be between Ravichandran Ashwin’s carrom ball against Glenn Maxwell’s pyrotechnics.
David Warner’s savage attack against Mohammed Shami’s probing length or Michael Clarke’s years of experience against Ravindra Jadeja’s restrictive lines also has ingredients of a blockbuster. Not to forget Mitchell Starc’s guile against Virat Kohli’s flair.
All eyes will be on Kohli, who has not got a 50 plus score after his century against Pakistan in the first game of the tournament.
However, bigger the occasion, blade of Kohli’s bat becomes wider. The Delhi lad loves a good scrap and nothing better than hammering a quality Australian attack on which he has feasted all summer.
A semi-final of a World Cup is not played on paper and therefore there would be very little to separate the two teams when they square off at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
It will be a match where current form will be pitted against recent statistics which makes it a Battle Royale before the summit clash against New Zealand at the MCG on March 29.
On basis of current form, India with seven straight wins have been the team of the tournament so far but when it comes to playing Australia, they have not won a single match in seven encounters across two formats which also includes a warm-up game of the mega event played some 43 days ago.
These matches include four Tests, out of which two were won by the hosts, two ODIs of the tri-series and warm-up match (unofficial) before the start of the tournament proper.