Wednesday, 25 March 2015

PREVIEW OF SEMIFINAL #2- Defending Champions take on the Favorites...

The first Semi-Final witnessed between New-Zeland  & South Africa was an intense, enthralling,  nail-biter   contest between bat & ball where the Kiwis upstaged the South- Africans to reach the Finals of the biggest prize in Cricket for the first time ever in their cricketing history.

They will take on the winner of the second Semi--Final to be played between India vs Australia.


To be played on the prestigious Sydney Cricket Ground, this big game will determine who will play against the Kiwis on the 29th of March at the Melbourne Cricket Ground(MCG)  in pursuit of the World Cup Trophy.

India, prior to the start of the World Cup played a test series with Australia followed by a Tri-Series involving England and for all the games they played in they failed to win a single game of cricket in that tour which saw MS Dhoni giving up Test Cricket both as a Wicket Keeper & as the captain.( A fact most cricket experts felt was imminent looking at his disastrous record as a Test Captain overseas).

This has spurred MS Dhoni up, and come the big stage India have turned up and have delivered pretty well so far. Having gone in to the Quarter Finals unbeaten and having gone past Bangladesh pretty convincingly they look a confident team. The team management must be credited for this including the skipper for keeping the team spirit buoyant and not crumbling mentally despite the heavy losses they suffered leading up to the World Cup.

India's main strength has been their batting always and no difference in this tournament as almost all their batters having got a hit and seem to look in pretty good touch.  Even in the ICC ChampionsTrophy in 2013( which India won), the openers laid the platform for the rest of  the batsmen to capitalize on.  And the Indian bowlers despite being on the road for close to 4 months have looked fresh, agile & nippy and have dismissed their opponents in all the seven games they have played in this World cup so far.

But a key component in the team, who was grossly under-utilised in the lead up to the WC is off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. The team management have given him lot of confidence and backed him up and Ashwin has delivered really well. He has been the big bonus for India using which they have been able to dismiss opponents this World Cup.

Playing at the SCG , a pitch traditionally known to assist the spinners Ashwin's role becomes even more important & with the fact that Ravindra Jadeja has been out of form this tournament, it makes rshwin's role even more important. In my view, for India to defeat Australia in the Semis, Ashwin will the key player.

Here 's a glimpse of Ravichandran Ashwin's  talent & skill:

For one of the co-hosts  Australia, who are five time world champions already, this game won't be a new experience for them but the pressure of playing in home conditions would be a factor to consider,

A well balanced team which has had a very good run in to the Sem-Finals.  They only faultered against New-Zealand but even there they pushed the Kiwis to the brink despite scoring 151 runs.  A batting order which looks pretty settled and one which has David Warner & Glen Maxwell in it, is not going to be an easy task at all for the confident Indian Bowling line up.

Australia is lucky to have the services of a dynamic all-rounder in James Faulkner whose expert bowling skillls in the middle and end stages of the game will boost Australia and also Faulkner is proving to be a very potent finisher with the bat as well. For me James Faulkner will be the key player to watch out for come this Thursday.

The finishing ability of  Faulkner was in full show against India a couple of years back. Here's a glimpse of that:


This game will definitely be an eagerly viewed game and this would definitely be the biggest test for the Indian team as they have to counter the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc & Josh Hasellwood.  To that add James Faulkner to the mix and you have a very tough attach who on home soil would be hard for India to negotiate.

But if the pitch at the SCG , assists spinner then India need to capitalize by using Ashwin very effectively and if Xavier Doherty , the Aussie off spinner plays, then India must look to score heavily from his bowling. But with Glenn Maxwell proving to be a good partnership breaker as he showed against Pakistan with his off-spinners , Doherty is unlikely to play on Thursday.

On a whole, this is a big game with the tag of defending champions looming over their heads, India will go in to this match as the team under more pressure and despite being unbeaten so far in the tournament, the ghosts of a disastrous tour of Australia will linger in the minds of  the Indians thus giving Australia the physiological edge going in to this epic battle.

And Australia have a much more strong & balanced team compared to India. This game would be tough to call but all one can hope for is a Semi-Finals which will live up to it's expectations and which would a be a close, tight contest.

Can India triumph over  the Aussies in their own backyard??? Or will the favorites Australia go through to the Finals?? Well,  we need to wait till Thursday to find out!!!

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