Former Australia captain reckons hosts are no more favourites for today's World Cup semi-final against India after a scratchy show against Pakistan last week
Sydney: Former Australia captain Ian Chappell seems quite unhappy with the way the co-hosts performed in their last World Cup match (the quarter-final against Pakistan), so refuses to tip them as firm favourites to beat India in today's battle.
Ian Chappell outside his home in the Bayview area of Sydney's Narabeen suburb. Pic/Ashwin Ferro
"If you asked me about this match (semi-final) a week back, I would have picked Australia straightaway.
But after watching the Pakistan game, I think I'll put it down to a 50-50 chance of victory for both teams, and that is a compliment to India for sure," Chappell told mid-day near his home here.
The 71-year-old cricket pundit went on to justify his comment. "Firstly, (opener Aaron) Finch is not looking good. I don't think smart bowlers will be troubled by him too much. India just need to swing the ball a bit and he won't be able to get around it.
He's already failed five times in a row (Finch scored 135 in the tournament opener against England after which he has only managed scores of 14, 4, 24, 20 & 2 in the next five matches), so his confidence is a bit low. Besides, now he'll be playing better bowling.
Australia's Aaron Finch is bowled by NZ's Tim Southee at Eden Park, Auckland on February 28. Pic/Getty Images
Against weaker teams, you may get away. Skipper Michael Clarke's batting form is also a concern," said Chappell, who played 75 Tests between 1964 and 1980, and never lost a Test series in his 30-Test tenure as captain.
Chappell said India's strength is the spin department, but felt that Axar Patel would be a better bet than Ravindra Jadeja.
"The advantage for India is spin bowling, both bowling it and also the fact that Australia don't play spin so well. But they'd have a greater advantage if they would field a good left-arm orthodox spinner like Patel instead of Jadeja who doesn't spin it so much."
Pace vs spin
Finally, it's 1.5 points-a-piece to both teams, almost like a chess points rating system, in Chappell’s book. "I think in the fast bowling department, Australia are ahead and in the spin segment, India are up. In the batting department, things are pretty even. But if India can get a couple of early wickets, it will be very interesting for the defending champions," concluded Chappell.