25 March 2015
Semi-Final 2, #INDvAUS – 5 Key Match-Ups
Here's a look at the five key match-ups for Australia’s semi-final clash against India that could decide the outcome of this match
Shikhar Dhawan has been in excellent form at the top of the India batting order throughout the tournament, scoring two centuries and one fifty.
They are also no strangers to each other, having played a lot of cricket against each other during the Australian Summer.
Both teams are in excellent form and when the players step out on to the SCG on Thursday they will know exactly what to expect.
The outcome of this match could come down to battles between key players.
Here are the five key match-ups for Australia’s semi-final clash against India. Win these, and a date with New Zealand at the MCG on Sunday at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will follow:
1. Mohammad Shami v David Warner
In a tournament where batsmen have attracted much of the attention, Mohammed Shami has led the way for the Indian attack, creating early breakthroughs and amassing 17 wickets from six matches.
Heading into the tournament, there were question marks over the India bowling attack, with critics asking whether it had the penetration to advance to the latter stages of the tournament.
Alongside Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma, Shami has proved India has the bowling stocks to back up its superstar batting line-up.
It had not always been an easy road for the paceman, who as recently as January took just two wickets at 49 for the entire ODI tri series against Australia and England.
But he started the tournament in brilliant form, taking a career-best 4-35 as Pakistan was dismissed for 224. His scalps included those of Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi.
He collected three-wicket hauls against West Indies and Ireland and in the quarter-final against Bangladesh, he took 2-37.
Shami will be one of the men tasked with limiting the damage done by David Warner.
The Australia opener is one of the keys for Australia, particularly with Aaron Finch finding runs harder to come by in recent matches.
With 288 runs at 57.60, Warner has been Australia’s second-most productive batsman and was at his best in Perth against Afghanistan when he powered his way to 178 off 133 balls.
Warner had an excellent summer with the bat against India prior to the start of the tournament and given the strength of the Indian batsmen, Australia will need to make sure its own batsmen step up on Thursday.
2. Mitchell Johnson v Virat Kohli
Two of cricket’s modern greats, expect plenty of entertainment from Mitchell Johnson and Virat Kohli in Sydney.
Kohli is the fourth-ranked ODI batsman in the world right now and limiting how many runs he scores will be close to the top of Australia’s list of priorities.
He produced a player-of-the-match performance against Pakistan in Adelaide at the start of the tournament, scoring 107, while his other best knocks have been 46 against South Africa and 44* against Ireland.
Kohli was clearly unhappy to miss out on the runs in the quarter-final against Bangladesh when he was caught out for three slashing at a wide ball, so expect him to be more determined than ever to perform in Sydney.
Johnson has not experienced the same success as Mitch Starc this World Cup but he remains the leader of the Australian pace attack and expect him to be focused and set on causing problems for the India batsmen in Sydney.
His best performance for the tournament so far was against Afghanistan, when he collected 4-22, while his 10 scalps for the tournament have come at an average of 24.60 with an economy rate of 5.52.
3. Mitchell Starc v Shikhar Dhawan
This is a battle between two of the form players of CWC15. Shikhar Dhawan has been in excellent form at the top of the India batting order throughout the tournament, scoring two centuries and one fifty.
His 367 runs to date have some at 52.42 and he was particularly impressive in his match-winning innings of 137 against South Africa early in the tournament.
Dhawan collected a second Player of the Match award for his 100 against Ireland and he will want to get among the runs in Sydney to give India the best possible chance at advancing.
One of the men hoping to remove Dhawan early will be Mitch Starc. Sitting second on the World Cup wicket taker tally, Starc has been brilliant for Australia this tournament, having taken 18 wickets at an average 9.77 while maintaining a miserly economy rate of 3.74.
He almost single-handedly stole the match for Australia against New Zealand in Auckland when he took a devastating 6-28, while against Scotland he collected 4-14.
4. Ravi Ashwin v Michael Clarke
Ravi Ashwin does plenty of damage with a cricket ball and is handy with the bat as well.
A member of India’s winning ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 squad, Ashwin has clever varieties with his off-spin and is reliable when it comes to taking wickets during the middle overs.
He has been excellent for India through the World Cup, collecting 12 wickets at 24 and has been one of the stand-out spinners of the entire tournament.
More importantly, Ashwin has kept a tidy economy rate of 4.29 and MS Dhoni will want him to frustrate Australia’s big hitters.
This should create an interesting battle between Ashwin and one of Australia’s best players of spin – Michael Clarke.
Along with Steve Smith, Clarke is one of the best in the world when it comes to tackling a turning ball and the Australian captain will look to get on top of Ashwin in the middle overs for the co-hosts.
Clarke had a difficult start to the tournament, missing the first game while still recovering from hamstring surgery, before being denied a chance to have a bat when Australia’s second game against Bangladesh was washed out.
He has since put together some good innings, however, scoring a crucial 68 against Sri Lanka in Sydney when Australia was fighting to secure second spot in Pool A, and he gave himself an extra chance to bat against Scotland in Hobart when he chose to open the batting and scored 47.
5. Ravindra Jadeja v Glenn Maxwell
In the lead-up to and during the Australian summer Maxwell was struggling for form, but like many of the game’s best, he has more than risen to the occasion this tournament. First, he scored 66 against England in Australia’s World Cup opener before a quick-fire 88 against Afghanistan.
Then, Maxwell produced a blazing century against Sri Lanka, coming within a ball of posting the fastest-ever World Cup hundred, before chipping in a handy unbeaten 44 against Pakistan in the quarter-finals.
Maxwell currently has the third-highest strike rate in the tournament behind Brendon McCullum and Andrew Russell, and tops the Australian runs tally with 301 at 75.25.
Ravindra Jadeja meanwhile will be looked upon by Dhoni to use his left-arm spin to trouble the Australian batsman. He will be particularly important if the SCG wicket is lending itself to spin.
Jadeja has been consistently good for India this tournament, chipping in with regular wickets including his 2-42 against Bangladesh in the quarter-final.
Given the all-round talents of both Maxwell and Jadeja, it is likely their captains will call upon them to produce in both innings.
Maxwell has bowled each match this tournament, taking five wickets including 2-43 in the quarter-final, while Jadeja has scored 41 runs in four innings.
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