Australia must win against an in-form India if they are to keep their slim World T20 2014 hopes alive.
Darren Lehmann’s team’s destiny is far from in their own hands, but they will be keen to put things right when taking on an imperious Indian outfit, who have already qualified for the semi-finals.
The Aussies, who have undergone something of a resurgence in all forms of the game as of late, lost back-to-back games against the West Indies and Pakistan to leave their campaign in tatters. Now they’re left relying on an unlikely series of results to get them through to the final four.
Whilst Australian cricket is undoubtedly on the up at the minute, coach Lehmann lamented their performances in the shorter format, with small mistakes even more costly in the frantic nature of T20 cricket, per Australian Associated Press in the Guardian:
We have got to be on the mark each and every time. Especially in this knock-out format. You find out about some players in pressure situations which is good and bad for a coach and a captain. At least we learned.
We beat ourselves in these games. It's as simple as that.
Obviously credit to the West Indies and Pakistan but we should've won both of those games. We've got only ourselves to blame. Our match awareness has got to improve in this format.
Things couldn’t be more different for India. They’ll most likely rejig the side a little here with their place in the semi-finals secure. But given the quality in their ranks and the undoubted hunger festering in fringe players to make an impression, the Aussies certainly won’t be in for an easy ride in this one.
Here’s all the info you need ahead of what promises to be an intriguing clash, including live stream details, full form guide and key statistics:
Date: Sunday, March 30
Start time: 1:30 p.m. BST/9:30 a.m. ET (7.30 p.m. local)
Streaming Info: Sky Sports 2
The fortunes of these two teams couldn’t be more contrasting on the cusp of this one. Australia have lost both of their Group 2 games in the Super 10s so far, but they could have easily emerged victorious in either.
Against Pakistan, the Aussies looked set to coast home after an excellent knock of 74 from Glenn Maxwell, but their run chase tailed off towards the end of the innings.
Against the West Indies, it was the bowlers who let the team down, with the Windies’ Darren Sammy taking advantage of some wayward Aussie death bowling, something Australian bowling legend Shane Warne picked up on:
But if there is any team in this tournament that has been delivering skills when required, it’s India. They have won three from three in their Group 2 contests and look like the team to beat as the last four draws ever closer.
They have been marvellous in all areas in this tournament, but batsman Virat Kohli has been the standout man. He struck consecutive half centuries in the previous two games against the West Indies and Bangladesh; in his most recent game against the hosts, Kohli smashed the Bangladeshi spinners a long, long way on the leg side:
Kohli is emerging as a top-class batsman in all forms of the game, which has lead to recent comparisons with the likes of Don Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar from former Indian skipper Kapil Dev per NDTV Sports.
He’s certainly the form man for this Indian side, and if Australia are to have any chance of snaffling victory here, they must prise him out early.
The absence of paceman Mitchell Johnson is obviously a huge blow for the Aussies, but it’s about time somebody stepped up to fill the void he's left; Australia's toothlessness with the ball is emphasised by the fact they have only taken nine wickets in the entire tournament.
To qualify for the semi-finals, Australia need Bangladesh to beat Pakistan before hoping Pakistan can recover to beat the West Indies in their final group game. Then Australia need to see off India in this contest and Bangladesh in their final game, hoping that their net run rate surpasses both Pakistan and the West Indies if they are to progress.
Pretty simple, right?
If Australia are going to pick up a victory here, the stats say they’d probably be best batting first. According to Opta Jim on Twitter, the Aussies are excellent when it comes to defending a decent first-innings total:
In India’s previous two games, Kohli and Rohit Sharma have shared partnerships surpassing 100. Against Bangladesh, they made 100 whilst together at the crease, and against the West Indies before that, they notched 106 together; the fourth- and second-highest T20 partnerships by Indian batsmen ever, per ESPN Cricinfo.com.
Would you put it past the dynamic duo to post similar numbers against an out-of-sorts Australian team?