Cricket lovers are all set for a scintillating show at the Sydney Cricket Ground in what promises to be a nail-biting face-off between the two acrimonious teams, India and Australia. Yesterday, Eden Park witnessed the most captivating match of this tournament between the Proteas and the Kiwis. Unsurprisingly, it has left the expectations from the second semi-final, soaring high. Even though the four time champion, Australia is widely expected to win the semi-final, it will surely be a game to watch out for.
While talking to a friend about the possible decimation of India by the Aussies in the semifinal, I was told that while it is possible for India to defeat Australia, but to do so in Australia, is near to being impossible. However, there’s a twist in the tale. With 30,000 Indians cheering for the Men in Blue at the Sydney Cricket Ground tomorrow, the electric atmosphere at SCG is bound to give them the feel of Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai or even the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. SCG would be painted blue, with few dashes of gold and yellow, much to the disappointment of Michael Clarke and his men, who will be met with a hostile sight in their own country.
On learning that 70 percent of the 42,000 tickets for the match have been booked by Indians, Clarke was compelled to tweet “I call on Australian cricket lovers to paint the SCG gold on Thursday. We need your support #goldout.” Former Australian Captain, however, had an opposite take on the matter.“I don’t know why they are worried about the fans. As a batsman you are cocooning yourself from the crowd,” he told a news channel.
Well, the former Captain might just be right. There’s only so much crowd support can do for a team. The history of India-Australia matches disproportionately favours the Kangaroos. India have beaten Australia just once in 35 years in a one-day international at the Sydney Cricket Ground and the hosts have won all six semi-finals they have contested since the inaugural event in 1975. Moreover, they have a 7-3 win-loss record in the last ten World Cup games against India.
Hence, to end Australia’s bid for a fifth world crown, Team India would need an extraordinary twist in fate. The twist in fate, though, is not impossible, for albeit in World Cup 2015, Australia has had a good run of form, they have seemed far from being invincible. This is perhaps why on the eve of this heated face-off, the Aussies have taken to petty talk of one-upmanship. While Glenn Maxwell sought to remind India of their poor Aussie tour in January, others from their team like James Faulkner and Mitchell Johnson have explicitly warned India of sledging, saying that the same is “inevitable” in such a high pressure encounter. However, it would be prudent on the part of the Men in Blue to not take the about threats as hollow claims, for sledging is a part of their game, and against India, they are bound to use their tried and tested tactic of “mental disintegration”.
But, Dhoni and his men are on an all-time cricketing high, too. With seven back-to-back wins this World Cup, they boast of a 100 percent record that their semi-final foes do not. Moreover, Sydney is known to have favoured the team with good spinners. In Ravichandran Ashwin, India has a world-class off-spinner, someone whose performance can place India in a comfortable position over their hostile opponents in tomorrow’s match. This, has been acknowledged by former Australian pacer Stuart Clark himself, who said, “I think one place where India has advantage over Australia in this game is presence of Ravi Ashwin in their side. He is a world-class bowler and Australia, particularly don’t have a world-class spinner.”
India has the momentum going for them, they have decimated whichever team has come their way this tournament. Defeating the Aussies would be a final assertion of the invincibility of the Men in Blue. As Virat Kohli puts it so aptly, “There couldn’t be a better time for us (to beat Australia). It is an opportunity for us to do justice to the way we have played so far in Australia…” We agree with you, Virat! Although, if you ask us Indian fans, any time is a good time to defeat the Aussies!
Image Source: The Viewspaper