The route for India to earn a place in the semi-final is simple. It’s not easy, but simple – they have to win all the three matches of the super-eights. India look invincible in this tournament as MSD’s two promising combinations have done exceedingly well, and it will be interesting to see what sort of combination Dhoni prefers against Australia. Harbhajan Singh has made an amazing come-back into the squad with four wickets against England, while Piyush Chawla, with his googly and other varieties of spin, has also made a superb come-back into the squad. It’s time for MSD to look at the conditions, wicket and the opposition’s strength and weaknesses and depending on that, select the best XI.
India’s batting performances in this competition have been good. Gautam Gambhir got his rhythm back against England and he needs to keep that going. On the other hand, Sehwag is looking a bit vulnerable against short-pitched deliveries, and needs to work on that, since Starc, Cummins and Watson will bang the ball in short, particularly when the run-flow is high. The openers haven’t fired yet, but if they get India off to a flyer, then it will be interesting to see how the opposition’s captain changes his strategy.
Virat Kohli’s consistency is the silver-lining in the middle order while Yuvraj’s remarkable come-back against New Zealand with a brilliant innings of 34 (20) gives hope.
Rohit Sharma also found his rhythm against England as he played some delightful shots off Tim Bresnan in the death overs. He too needs to keep his rhythm going, and his innings will indeed play a crucial role. In the inaugural Twenty20 championship which was held in 2007 at South Africa, Rohit Sharma was the star performer for India as he played a couple of magical innings – one in the quarterfinal against the Proteas and other against Australia in the semi-final. This clearly shows that he has the ability, but has to spend some time at the crease. If he is promoted up the order ahead of Suresh Raina, then he will undoubtedly play a magical innings for India.
However, the one drawback for Team India is that they don’t have an alternate opener. If either of the openers are not fully fit, then India will certainly be in trouble. They can’t afford to ask Virat to open the innings because his wicket is very crucial, and India can’t afford lose his wicket early.
India has a brighter chance of winning than Australia. A huge problem however is that they leak too many runs with the new ball. The reason behind is that is Zaheer and Balaji’s inability to get the ball to swing even if they hit the deck on a continuous basis.
This is one of the weakest Australian sides, as they heavily rely on Warner, Watson and the Hussey brothers. If the opening bowlers get rid of David Warner and Watson, then Australia will be pushed onto the back foot, as there’s no fire-power in the middle order. If India can exploit this weakness of the Aussies, then they will indisputably come up trumps.
Having said this, the team selection for Friday’s game will again come under scrutiny. Will Team India persist with the same combination that played against Afghanistan? That shouldn’t be the case. MSD should select his XI depending on the conditions and Australia’s weaknesses. Australia are very good players of short-pitched bowling. However, except the Hussey brothers, the rest aren’t very fine players of spin-bowling. Therefore, it won’t be a bad idea to play Ashwin instead of Piyush Chawla. Also, they can leave out Dinda and bring Zaheer and Balaji back into the squad. Apart from these changes, he should bring Sehwag and the other senior players back into the squad.
If these changes are made, then India unquestionably will emerge victorious!