Throughout a long and tempestuous summer, Australia have dominated India. But on Thursday in the World Cup semi-final none of that will matter a jot.
The Test series, which Australia won 2-0, and the one-day tri-series, in which India barely showed up, will all be forgotten. India have been revitalised in the defence of the trophy they claimed to such jubilation at home four years ago and have won all seven of their matches in this tournament so far.
While the personnel may be exactly the same, the team are entirely different, an effective contradiction to the supposition that it is impossible to turn form on and off at will. India are on a roll and Australia know it.
At home, even on a Sydney pitch which might favour spin, Australia should still have the advantage. They have been thoroughly efficient so far, losing only once in a pool thriller to New Zealand, who await the victors on Sunday. The impression is that there is still more to come.
But they are aware that this is different to all that has gone before. The benefits of being in Sydney are likely to be curtailed slightly because every match is a home match for India these days. Such is the level of their support that the Australia coach, Darren Lehmann, was moved to place an imploring message on Cricket Australia’s website calling on his own fans to make themselves heard.
The teams know all there is to know about each other after three months of encounters, though Australia may be surprised by encountering an India of a different hue from the one that was so tired and disengaged in January that they lost twice to England, of all teams.
Australia could do with more runs from their opening partnership. Since their opening match against England the first wicket has yet to go beyond 30 and after scoring 135 in that match, Aaron Finch has added only 54 in his last five innings.
It is inconceivable that Australia would make a change now, but Finch’s lack of runs is doubtless putting a strain on his partner, David Warner.
“You try and hit a couple at the start of the innings to get a roll on,” Finch said. “When you’re not hitting them that well, you get down the other end and hand it over to Davy to take some of the strike. Just try and work your way into an innings in a different way as opposed to boundaries and trying to score quickly.”
A high-scoring contest seems inevitable, given the quality and intent of the batting. Australia’s ability to explode in the back part of an innings could be decisive.
If it turns as much as some expect, India’s spinners might be deeply influential. India have come a long way, but probably not far enough.Reuse content