The mind wanders ahead of the Goa game. Like everyone, Australia and India are preparing their pitch for the World Cup. Australia have taken Ricky Ponting, Mitchell Johnson, Michael Hussey and Shane Watson out of the ODI equation. India have a virtually new team and are planning a similar recourse against New Zealand next month.
Yet, the Goa match is important. It's a window of opportunity for youngsters in the sides. India would be worried how they lost the plot in the final five overs in the field. Australia are scratching their heads at the canter with which the young Indians prevailed in Vizag. So, opportunity beckons in Goa.
No matter how India do in this game, or in the five ODIs against New Zealand, they would still be unsure of their bowling. History tells us India's best shows on the world stage have been on account of bowlers. Madan Lal, BS Sandhu and Roger Binny in 1983; Binny, Chetan Sharma and Sivaramakrishnan in the 1985 Benson and Hedges, or Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan in the 2003 World Cup — all were stellar on the world stage.
No such optimism now. But give it six months and there could be three names. R Ashwin for sure.
Australia have a reputation to defend. They have a hat-trick of World Cup wins. Even in sluggish conditions in the West Indies, they were a handful. But the invincibility is long gone. At least with India. But then their bowling was manned by the likes Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath. The batsmen also were very good. This makes the World Cup one of the most open fields ever.
Before the curtain goes up, the last-minute preparations are at a feverish pitch. It would be a shame if rain intervenes. India are a step away from a clean sweep. Australia have a chance to thump their chests for their home fans especially with England watching.