World Cup

Grand spectacle expected in second semifinal too

One unbeaten team from one pool is in the final, and it is the turn of the other unbeaten team from the other pool to showcase its ruthlessness. India has decimated opponents in this World Cup and grown from pre-tournament no-hopers to one of the most consistent sides in this tournament. If Brendon McCullum’s brand of captaincy has been all-out attack and aggression, M.S. Dhoni’s has been cold, calculated and employed to near perfection.

In Australia, also a pre-tournament favourite, India finds its second strong opposition after South Africa. All the losses from the tri-series will count for nothing as India has been the in-form side and has gone about its business without fuss.

The transformation has been nothing short of spectacular. Clinical is an often-used word in cricketing parlance, and that is what India has been.

All the Indian batsmen have runs against their names, and if they do not feature on the top run-getters list it does not matter. Everyone is contributing when the need arises in an event of this magnitude. Bowlers were termed the Achilles heel of this side, and they have responded by bowling out all the sides while giving away nothing.

One more aspect which has gone in India’s favour is the same playing XI, except on one instance that was forced through injury.

Depth in every aspect has been Australia’s asset. It has responded to home expectations and, except one game against New Zealand, has a spotless record.

But the game against Pakistan exposed a few chinks in its armoury. Australia has a four-pronged pace attack but the fifth bowler is a combination of Glenn Maxwell and Shane Watson. If any team plans its batting, there are runs for the taking as Sri Lanka showed. Mitchell Johnson is playing in the shadow of Mitchell Starc and has not been at his menacing best. Will they play Xavier Doherty, their lone specialist spinner in the team?

Aaron Finch and David Warner are both explosive, but the guns have been eerily silent so far. Warner does like the Indian bowlers though and might see this as an opportunity to rattle up a good score. Watson came through a harrowing time at the hands of Wahab Riaz and won Australia the game. He is battle hardened, and that could be a warning sign. Steve Smith has been getting runs for fun against India. Maxwell has been nothing short of a sensation and I am looking forward to his duel with R. Ashwin.

It is tough to gaze into the crystal ball and pick a winner for tomorrow. My heart is with India, but my head is muddled. Let us hope it is as grand a spectacle as the first semifinal.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 8:30:58 AM |

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