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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

World Cup 2011 - India meet Australia in QF

A Grand Mini-final is what Tim Nielsen calls the 2nd quarter-final between India and Australia, adding that the pressure will be on India in front of their home crowd. Fair enough, Tim. But what about pressure on your team to maintain the Cup-winning streak? Your team has lost a World Cup match after 1999 - is it just the beginning of the end?

Play 3 spinners, says Wasim Akram.Good idea, Akram, but is it not the formula the Indian think-tank using for most of the matches (except for the first one)? Harbhajan, Chawla/Ashwin, Yuvraj/Pathan are our tweakers - more than enough for the Oz batsmen. If you want to add another specialist spinner, who will open the bowling? Sachin Tendulkar?

Ricky Ponting himself is under pressure from his country, thanks to his poor captaincy skills in the last few games. Hussey had to affirm that Punter had the backing of the team and there is no question of change as of now. I am not sure if Steve Smith shares the same confidence in his mind after he was given a mouthful by his skipper for attempting a catch! Dressing room television sets are given more protection after the last incident by Ricky - insurance agents might be in business!!

Javagal Srinath has full praise for Zaheer Khan - a very rare article when a bowler of his same ilk applauds the youngster for his consistency and control. Srinath proposes that India use an extra seamer if the pitch is flat. What will the pitch hold for the bowlers, will be known later today. Whatever it is, I feel Ashwin is a better bet than Nehra against Australia.

Mitchell Johnson targets Sehwag and says that he will try chin-music. That is a good ploy, Mitch. But, can you put two balls on good length in a row? Your radar seems to be firing all over the place? Can you control it better? Brett Lee has proven again what a leader he is for the Australian team. Shaun Tait has given him good support but Johnson has been himself - fast and accurate on some days and wayward normally. Viv Richards, in his interview, mentioned that Sehwag reminds of himself. In the new avatar of Sehwag (where he is willing to play the entire fifty overs), the Oz bowlers will find it difficult to contain him.

What about the legend himself? Talk has been going on about his walk during the match in Chennai but tell me one thing frankly. Does it surprise you? No. The man has proven himself to be above the game in many situations and this is another example in his glittering career. Motera has been a ground where many records have happened earlier - Gavaskar's 10,000 runs, Kapil Dev's 432 wickets and now, I expect, Sachin's hundredth century against his favorite opponents.

The Indian team has to look at the collapses that the batting has seen over the matches against the top teams - Dhoni will probably the player once again who will play till the 50th over while stroke players hit out around him. The team that played against West Indies will see Sehwag return in place of Raina. Ashwin will be key to take wickets and bowl in PowerPlay overs. Harbhajan should find his form, after seeing a certain Ponting in the opposition lineup. Zaheer will relish the reverse swing that the hot climate will offer.

The Oz team has a problem with spin and that is going to play on their mind. Ponting's loss of form is another worry while Hussey's return from injury will strengthen the middle-order. Cameron White or David Hussey? Hussey might come back to supplement with his off-spin. The bowlers are raring to go against Sachin/Sehwag once again. Will they take early wickets?

Castrol Index puts Australia at an advantage of 178-156. Do you agree? I feel that the Indians are slightly ahead in this match between the top two ranked teams in ODI cricket.
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