Many analysts including some in India have predicted doom for the Men in Blue in the World Cup semifinal against the Australians, their arguments and conclusions rely on history.
Statistics have been invoked from the 20th century and a superior World Cup record to conclude an Australian win at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) is more or less a given.
Well, that could be conceded as valid if the current Australian lineup were something this:
AC Gilchrist†, ML Hayden, RT Ponting*, A Symonds, SR Watson, MJ Clarke, MEK Hussey, GB Hogg, NW Bracken, SW Tait, GD McGrath.
But it's not!
Again, the arguments would be valid had the Australians, in the last four years, dominated all the tournaments like their ‘Invincibles’.
The team now makes all the right noises, but is far from being anywhere near ‘Invincibles’.
If history is why India’s chances are, apparently, zilch, it is recent history that offers reasons why the Men In Blue can win on Thursday.
Reason 1 | Last two ICC ODI events - India 2 Australia 0
Winning is a habit. India has won the last two ICC ODI events — the 2011 World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy. The victories cannot be brushed off under the "sub-continent" pitches carpet because the Champions Trophy was hosted by England and Wales.
And how did Australia perform in these tournaments? In Champions Trophy, it failed to win one match. It lost to Sri Lanka, England and escaped defeat against New Zealand as rain interrupted the chase.
On the other hand, India’s never-fancied bowling unit defended a total as low as 129 against the English team in the final and stole victory from the jaws of defeat.
We all know what happened during the 2011 World Cup. Yuvraj Singh's roar after hitting the winning runs against Australia in the quarter-final is etched in Indian hearts.
In the present, India would not mind the mind games from Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Johnson. If history repeats itself, it doesn’t apply to Australia alone.
Reason 2 | All-out magic!
In the last four years, Australia have lost 14 of the 18 matches in which they have been all out. That's a loss track record of nearly 78%.
This World Cup, India have bowled out the opposition in all seven matches. While racking up 70 wickets in seven matches, India have not conceded 300.
Reason 3 | Spin win
"Playing in Sydney, Australia will miss a good spinner," Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq said. And who is Australia's lead spinner? Glenn Maxwell, who says he can do the role. His words: “I’ve taken a couple of wickets this tournament… I feel like I’ve been doing the job that Michael Clarke has been asking of me...”
Even in one game, aren’t batting and bowling two different ball games?
Is it true that SCG supports spinners?
A look at top bowlers in terms of 'averages' at the SCG in the last four years shows of the first 10, six are spinners!
In terms of economy too six out of the top 10 are spinners.
Ravichandran Ashwin (12 wickets) and Ravindra Jadeja (9 wickets) wouldn’t mind that. If Maxwell fancies his chances, so will Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma.
Reason 4 | Performance of Indian bowlers
Australian quicks want a bit of grass on the SCG pitch and India will be watching, as they should be ahead of a semi-final, this keenly. If it works for Aussie quicks, it also works for Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma.
All three Indian pacers are in the list of bowlers with 11 wickets or more. Mitchell Starc is bowling brilliantly and is the only Australian on the list.
Reason 5 | Batsmen mean business
Neither Umesh Yadav nor Mohit Sharma has had to bat for India. Even Shami got to bat in only two matches at the end of the innings. Shami has faced a total of 8 balls; and Ashwin and Jadeja have faced 41 and 42 balls.
Australians have been all out once and lost 9 wickets twice.
Apart from the stats above, there are those quirky ones without which the fascination and obsession with the game would be incomplete.
a) Want to see Kris Srikkanth's celebratory lungi dance
b) Need a new 'beating Australia' moment to remember
c) Need a #MaukaMauka with an Aussie twist
d) MS Dhoni
Delhi speaks: Can India win the World Cup semi-final against Australia?