The head says India, the heart roots for Australia. That sums up Thursday's game. Australia need to change the game they have been playing so far, because they've been unconvincing in their run-up to the quarterfinals. Their clash with India has come a game too soon and that is the main problem
for the title holders. They were efficient against Canada and Kenya without really being sparkling. What Australia need is the magic, which they need to rediscover if they want to get past the hosts.
Australia batsmen Shane Watson and Brad Haddin congratulate each other after century partnership during the world cup match between Australia and New Zealand at VCA ground, Nagpur.
I expect plenty of excitement and game-changing moments. Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait versus Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir will be one of the highlights of the event. In 1999, we changed the game and our fortunes by peppering the Indians with short stuff. I suspect a similar strategy might be used on Thursday as well. If the pacers can get a couple of top batsmen out early with short-pitched stuff, it will send shudders through the dressing room. If, on the other hand, the Indians manage to play them out or, better still, fight fire with fire through Sehwag and Tendulkar, the hosts will be on course.
Opportunity for Lee
This is where Brett will play a crucial role because he is bowling as well as ever. He has been under the shadow of the redoubtable Glenn McGrath and this is the time to express himself as the leader of the attack.
For the Indians, the main game-changer has been Yuvraj Singh. He has always under-performed against Australia so this might be a time for him to correct that statistic. Ricky Ponting's batting has been below par, and the questions being raised about his future are unnecessary at the moment.
Set the record right
This is a great opportunity for India to wash off the memories of Wanderers in 2003. A lot of players in this India team were part of that drubbing. India need to shut out expectations and pressure and remain calm. That was all of eight years and a day before Thursday's game, but then, revenge is a dish best served cold.