Thursday, March 24, 2011

India vs Australia - The Final

As the World Cup plods on drearily, the first big match has come up. India vs Australia at Ahmedabad. Not that it assures anything for the winner going by the current form of both teams (and all other teams) but getting through a big match like this itself could give a huge boost to whichever team's chances of lifting the cup.

It's really a 50-50 situation with the scale tilting slightly towards Australia - simply because they have played more big matches and have won more World Cups. They are also coming off a bruising trip of losses which makes the resilient side rather difficult to write off. They will field like madmen, bowl quick and to a plan and run for all the runs they can. For Australia and for Ponting, this is the match they will play like its their last match. Brett Lee will fume and fret and hurry and after that, unfortunately for Australia the cupboard is bare. Johnson looks ordinary but he can pick himself up and the rest of the bowling does not look like it will pose a threat. It depends on how well they field and how the fringe players life their bowling. The Aussies have enough depth in the batting and since India's bowling has not really been highly penetrative I would anticipate that they will treat Zaheer with respect and work out the other bowlers depending on their form this day. Ashwin can be dangerous if he allowed to get into his groove, so it depends on how they tackle him and how he responds to pressure! There will be the usual fireworks between Harbhajan and Ponting, Zaheer and Ponting - and the Aussie captain who has already lost his cool this tournament could well be riled into some indiscretion.

India's batting is an enigma but it should not have too much of a problem handling the Aussie bowling. The intensity with which India bats is the key again - wickets thrown away to bad shots will go against the team's cause today more than anything else. If the team can get its heads together, bat sensibly and not throw away wickets to pressure and tactics, they can pressurise the Aussies when they bat. But if they are unfocussed and lose wickets to bad shots, it could well be India's last match.

To me then, its all about application and discipline today, and less about pressure tactics. Head to head we have more firepower - only it has to fulfill its potential. No bravado, just basics should do. Also its all about how the fringe players will play this match. If the Ashwin's, Munaf's can pick up their performance a bit, it might tilt the proceedings in the end. It is also a test for Dhoni's captaincy - can he motivate his wildly fluctuating, highly talented team to come together and apply themselves for the team's cause when it counts most? If he can, we are through. If he cannot, then it is the same old story - we would have blown one of our best chances to win the World Cup.

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