India aim to clear Aussie hurdle

Tough test awaits Dhonis men in their clash against team from Down Under

India aim to clear Aussie hurdle

Well, if he and his team-mates have watched Australia-Bangladesh match on Wednesday afternoon, then India will know what is in store for them when they take on the team from Down Under in their Super Eights opener here on Friday.

Despite managing a modest 141, Australia blew away Bangla on a pitch that kept the pacemen more than interested through the contest. Shaun Tait, Dirk Nannes and Ryan Harris delivered one quick delivery after another to stifle Bangla batsmen who were simply not adequately equipped to handle them. “It’s going to be pace obviously in these conditions,” announced Aussie skipper Michael Clarke ahead of the India clash.
It all started at the same stage of the tournament last year in England and history appears to repeat itself. In the intervening period between the previous edition and the ongoing one, India have gone on to become the No 1 Test nation and they are only behind the top-ranked Australia in one-dayers. But MS Dhoni and Co would be keen to wipe out the not-so-pleasant memories of the last edition.

Under seamer-friendly conditions and without any quality express fast bowler, the West Indies hassled the young Indian batsmen like Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma, hampering them with short-pitched deliveries. England and South Africa then took the cue to dish out the same treatment.

With Australia’s strategy crystal clear as far as taking on the might of their rivals, the onus is now on Indian batsmen to come up with a counter plan. “I think our fast bowlers will bowl as much short stuff as they like. We have pace up our sleeves and I’m certain in these conditions we’ll use it. Let’s wait and see,” Clarke said.

If the pattern of the events on Wednesday is to continue, then there is little chance of big totals. Scoring off fast and bouncy deliveries isn’t going to be easy. While that certainly works in Australia’s favour, on the flip side, the pitch, with appreciable turn to go with good bounce, has also something in it for the spinners. With one of the finer set of spinners in this competition, India enjoy an edge over Australia in this deapartment. Also the boundary rope here is wider and longer and without much pace to work on, batsmen may just find it difficult to execute big hits off slower bowlers.

“I think spin is going to play a big part in this tournament,” said Clarke acknowledging the spinner’s role. “India have got some good spin bowlers. And Harbhajan is one of the best in the world. We’re going to work out a plan against him and back ourselves at that. Every player in our team plays spin differently. You need to be confident with your plan and stick to that,” he added.

There could be major overhauling as far as Indian team combination is concerned. Zaheer Khan is certain to comeback and Gambhir in place of Dinesh Kaarthick. It’s hard to imagine Dhoni preferring Piyush Chawla over the consistent Ravindra Jadeja while Rohit Sharma might be a better option than Yusuf Pathan. The only possible change Australia may effect is Mitchell Johnson, if fit, coming in for right-arm quick Ryan Harris who didn’t do bad at all against Bangladesh.     
With both pace and spin expected to play crucial roles in equal measure, the contest promises a fascinating match-up.

Teams (from): India: MS Dhoni (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Dinesh Kaarthick, Piyush Chawla, R Vinay Kumar.
Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), Shane Watson, David Warner, Cameron White, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin, David Hussey, Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Shaun Tait, Dirk Nannes, Nathan Hauritz, Tim Paine, Daniel Christian.

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