No matter who your favourite team is, the Australia vs India ICC World Cup 2015 semi-final on Thursday will be a mouth-watering affair that pits the World No 1 ODI team (Australia) against the No 2 (India) side.
India can boast of winning all their seven games before next week’s big battle at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Australia dropped a game a one-wicket loss to New Zealand in the Group stages.
Not very often have India boasted of an incisive pace attack. This time they can, thanks to Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma and Mohammad Shami, all proven performers in this tournament especially the latter, who is second on the wicket-takers’ list with 17 scalps.
To have an Indian in the honours list amidst some pace-heavy outfits Australia’s Mitchell Starc (topper with 18 wickets), Pakistan’s Wahab Riaz (16) and New Zealander Trent Boult (15) is refreshing.
The history of one-day cricket shows that very few sides can be perfect to the point of invincibility or rather unbeatable in the span of 100 overs. Even at the height of their powers, the Australian side led by Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting had their share of tense, close World Cup encounters. That they managed to pull through in 1999 and 2003 was a tribute to their depth, prowess and wherewithal. These factors came to the fore in yesterday’s semi-final against Pakistan as well. Australia have chinks and India know it, especially after watching their neighbours pinch Australia as the hosts went about chasing the 214-run target.
India too have been tested in the tournament and like the great sides of the past, overcame their hurdles. To display these good qualities again in Thursday’s semi-final will be their biggest challenge. MS Dhoni’s men will have to maximise every inch of their attributes and that, apart from the mere runs, wickets and catches, will make for interesting viewing. This is what makes sport special and riveting. A loss should not obliterate the fine display during the tournament.
Hopefully, there will be no mourning if India are stopped in their title defence. After all, only one side can win.