India and Australia are set for a fascinating clash at the Sydney cricket ground. The two teams meet in a much talked about second semi-finals of the 2015 World Cup. It is a moment of reckoning for the two skippers – Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Michael Clarke. Already ahead of the encounter the mind games between the two teams have begun – setting the tone for an explosive encounter. Aussie speedster Mitchell Johnson has already indicated that he would not mind sledging the Indian players; Rohit Sharma has said that India’s mission is to win the World Cup. India, in all likelihood, will go in with the same team, and rightly so, as it is not always a great idea to tinker with the winning formula.
The Indian batting had been put to test in the group stages against West Indies and Zimbabwe and the middle-order has come out with flying colours as Suresh Raina and Dhoni have been among the runs in the last couple of matches. The openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma too have bounced back. Virat Kohli , Ajinkya Rahane are having a quiet tournament . But this a big match.Indian bowling has been a revelation. Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Mohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin have done well so far. The semis is an acid test.
Australia on the other hand will bank on star openers Aaron Finch and David Warner to get them off to a flyer . And the likes of Steve Smith , Shane Watson and Glenn Maxwell to accelerate later on. Mitchell Starc has bowled brilliantly and has overshadowed Mitchell Johnson while Young Josh Hazelwood, James Faulkner have complimented each other well. So, a keen and even battle is one the cards. Whoever wins this goes on to meet New Zealand in the March 29 final of ICC World Cup 2015.
Steven Smith’s brilliant century propped up Australia before Indian bowlers staged a comeback of sorts but the hosts still managed to post a commanding 328 for seven in the second semifinal of the ICC Cricket World Cup in Sydney on Thursday.
This was the highest total by any team against India in this edition of the mega-event as the Australian batsmen dominated proceedings for the major part to become the first team to post a 300-plus score in a World Cup semifinal.
This was also the only time that Indian bowlers failed to take all 10 wickets of the opposition team and the rivals managed to score a 300 plus score after winning the toss.
Smith batted like a man possessed as the Indian attack looked pedestrian for the first time in front of the tournament and the local boy shone as his 105 came off only 93 balls with 11 boundaries and two sixes.
Aaron Finch, who played the role of sheet anchor to perfection with a patient 81 off 111 balls that had seven fours and a six, added 182 off 31 overs for the second wicket with Smith.
Later, Mitchell Johnson played a superb little cameo scoring 27 off 9 balls (4×4, 1×6) that helped the hosts cross the 320-run mark.
It was the first time that Indian pace attack was put to sword as the trio of Umesh Yadav (4/72 in 9 overs), Mohammed Shami (0/68 in 10 overs) and Mohit Sharma (2/75) were hammered into submission due to some poor planning as well as execution.
However, it was Ravichandran Ashwin, who walked away with honours with decent figures of 1/42, which included the prized scalp of dangerous looking Glenn Maxwell (23, 14 balls) with a well thought out trap.
It was because of Ashwin that India could stop Australia from racing away to a total in the range of 350 which looked possible when Maxwell started tonking the seamers.
The Australian innings was all about Smith’s approach and the manner in which he tackled the Indian bowling which has been a dominant force throughout the tournament.
So simple yet effective was Smith’s approach at the crease that it never seemed he was scoring at a rate of more than run-a-ball yet he did it with elan. The 100 came off 89 balls.