The Indian and the Australian team would have been bored of each other by now. India were in Australia at the end of 2018 for a full tour and then Australia visited India for a 5 match ODI series. Australia who had a horror run in ODIs over the past 2 years turned their fortune around with a series win in India and followed it up with a 5-0 drubbing of Pakistan in UAE. They finally found their right combination and with their captain Aaron Finch in good form they have made a good start to their World Cup campaign with a win.
The win against West Indies was particularly impressive as they turned the game around from a seemingly dire situation. The return of Steven Smith and David Warner was a huge boost for them ahead of the world cup and in the first 2 games of the tournament they showed how crucial they are for their batting success. Australia have probably the best balanced squad of the tournament with good batters and a good bowling attack. They also have two very good spinners to complement a brilliant pace attack.
India though brushed off their rustiness of a late start to complete a good fighting win against a struggling South Africans. The South African pacers gave the Indian top order a good work up and the innings of Rohit Sharma will give the Indian team huge confidence going into this game. Shikhar Dhawan though is still struggling for rhythm and India will be hoping that he will get back to form soon. The other positive for India was the performance of the bowling attack. Jasprit Bumrah was brilliant and his opening spell made Michael Vaughan tweet that that was the best three over spell of this competition so far.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar did well with the old ball and the spin twins Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav were brilliant in the middle overs.
Rohit Sharma (India): Rohit Sharma has begun the tournament with a bang. A century in the first game and that too in conditions which wasn’t ideal for batting made his captain call this as one of Rohit’s best hundred. Rohit’s form is crucial for India and he has shown good temperament at the start of the tournament. He has 23 ODI hundreds already and 16 since the last World Cup. He is a true match winner for India and will be important in this tough game.
Jasprit Bumrah (India): Bumrah was brilliant with the new ball against Australia. He picked up wickets and was difficult to get away as well. He is leader of the Indian attack and his bowling against Australian openers will be crucial in shaping the game forward for India. He had a brilliant Test series against the same opponents last year and has fair idea about each batter in their XI. He will be expected to get wickets again with the new ball.
Steven Smith (Australia): The innings against West Indies showed what Australia had been missing over the last year or so in their batting. Smith played a brilliant innings rescuing Australia from a precarious 39/4 to a competitive 288. The Australian batting is strong but Smith is an important cog in their XI and mostly stands up when the chips are down. He has done well against India in the past and once again will be expected to score runs against his favourite opponents.
Mitchell Starc (Australia): The left arm pacer with his match winning fifer against West Indies showed that he is back in form after missing out majority of the white ball cricketer over the last 18 months. He seems to have found his rhythm and when in his zone he is the most difficult bowler to get away. He is quick and can take wickets with the new ball and as well as old. He along with Cummins form a lethal new ball bowling pair.
What they said?
“We’ve got two world-class [fast] bowlers [on the sidelines]. I’m not in the team to make runs, hopefully the top order does that, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I got dropped for the next game,” said Nathan Coulter-Nile. “I’m in the team to take wickets and I’ve had two wicket-less games, so we’ll see how we go.”
“In the World Cup, you have to turn up on that day and play good cricket. What we have done in the past is past. As a team we believe that we have to play better on that particular day. We had a good rivalry between the teams in the last few months. We played good cricket in Australia, they played good cricket in India. So it’s going to be a great contest,” Rohit said.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (Capt), KL Rahul, MS Dhoni (wkt), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
David Warner, Aaron Finch (Capt), Usman Khawaja/Shaun Marsh, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wkt), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa.
This is a tough game to call. Both teams look good and have made a good start to the tournament. The bowling will be the one which will determine which way this contest will go. Both teams have a good variety in their bowling attack and the performance on the field will determine the outcome of the game.