World Cup: Spin or pace, India confident of beating Australia in Sydney SF

  • Agencies, Sydney
  • Updated: Mar 25, 2015 20:50 IST

Acrimony is omnipresent now whenever Australia and India clash in cricket. With a spot in the Cricket World Cup final against New Zealand on the line, expect the intensity to peak.

India will go into Thursday's World Cup semi-final against Australia in Sydney confident of success irrespective of whether the wicket took turn or assisted fast bowlers, opener Rohit Sharma said.

The wear and tear at the end of a long season was evident when the covers were removed at the Sydney Cricket ground on Wednesday, revealing a dry, brown pitch that would gladden India more than their rivals.

South African spinners Imran Tahir and JP Duminy shared seven wickets to bowl out Sri Lanka for 133 in the quarter-final at the SCG last week, setting up a nine-wicket win for the Proteas.

But the bat dominated the ball in previous World Cup games at the venue, with Australia piling up 376 for nine against Sri Lanka and South Africa smashing 408 for five off the West Indies' attack.

Australian coach Darren Lehmann predicted a high-scoring game, but Sharma said India were not sweating over the nature of the wicket.

"It does not worry us what sort of wicket we get because we are confident of doing well on any surface," said Sharma, who scored a century in the quarter-final against Bangladesh in Melbourne.

"We have taken 70 wickets in seven matches, bowled out the opposition every time, so we know what we need to do.

"Our seamers have done well and so have the spinners. We are ready for anything that we get."

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men have confounded critics by recovering from a winless bilateral tour of Australia before the World Cup to brush aside all-comers in the tournament.

Starting with two wins against Pakistan and South Africa, India won all six group matches to top Pool B and then downed spirited Bangladesh by 109 runs in the quarter-finals.

Besides bowling out their rivals in all games, India have piled up 300-plus scores every time they have batted first.

India have beaten Australia just once in 35 years in a one-day international at the Sydney Cricket Ground and the hosts have won all six semi-finals they have contested since the inaugural event in 1975.

But Sharma, who hit a record one-day score of 264 against Sri Lanka last year, said the past will have no bearing on Thursday's result and insisted Australia were not unbeatable.

"Of course we can win, no question about it," he said. "Australia is a good batting side but they struggled against good quality bowling when they played New Zealand or Pakistan.

"They have also bowled well, but then we have batted well too."

Australia were shot out for 151 by New Zealand in Auckland and it was only a six-wicket haul by Mitchell Starc that saw the Black Caps lose nine wickets before surpassing the modest target.

Pakistan's left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz had the Australian batsmen hopping with short-pitched deliveries in the quarter-final in Adelaide before the hosts won by six wickets.

Sharma, who had heated on-field exchanges with David Warner during the preceding tri-series, said he expected a fiery contest between two strong rivals.

"Look a bit of sledging is okay as long as boundaries are not crossed," he said. "The Indian team will not cross the line, but we will not back down either."

The transformation of India's bowlers at the World Cup has been "wonderful to watch" and the reigning champions will have a great chance of reaching the final if 10 Australian wickets tumbled on Thursday, Virat Kohli said.

India's bowlers were hammered all over Australia from the start of December to mid-February as the team lost a test series 2-0 and failed to win a single match in the following Tri-series, which also featured England.

Fast bowlers Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma have upped their game considerably at the World Cup, however, and have combined with the strong spin-bowling department to forge a potent attack.

With the help of a sprinkling of run-outs, the Indian bowlers have dismissed the opposition in all seven matches on their way to the semi-finals.

Kohli, the leading light in the much-vaunted Indian batting line-up, said everyone was aware of the areas where improvement was required and he was gratified by the way the pacemen had responded.

"The way the bowlers have reacted and the way they have performed with the composure and the confidence and the aggression all together, it's been wonderful to watch," he told Cricket Australia's website.

"So we expect the bowlers to step up if you want to beat quality sides in the world and the way they have done this in this World Cup has been commendable.

"We've played the right kind of cricket and the difference now is how our bowling attack has come into play in this World Cup taking 70 wickets in seven games.

"That's probably been the difference, and if we continue to do that we have a great chance come game day."

"There couldn't be a better time for us," he said. "It's an opportunity for us to do justice to the way we've played so far in Australia, and we haven't had the results."

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