Australia aren’t five-time world champions for no reason. Every time their opposition thinks they’re down and out, they bounce back in typical fashion. Coming into the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, doubts were looming over the defending champions. Do they have the depth in their squad? How will the integration of David Warner and Steve Smith affect the team mojo? None of this affected Australia though. They hit the ground running with two consecutive wins in their World Cup campaign.
Against Afghanistan, they had it pretty easy. An all-round bowling performance and fifties from Aaron Finch and David Warner got them their first win of the tournament. In their second match against the West Indies, a mini-batting collapse didn’t deter them from making a stunning comeback to seal the game. Mitchell Starc’s fifer and Nathan Coulter-Nile’s sensational 60-ball 92 were their standout performances.
It is the fear of losing and humiliation that often brings out the best in the Aussies. Their next opponent, India, will be wary of that. They ‘ve only had to overcome a deflated, injury-ridden South Africa so far. But the real test begins now, against a team that is equally strong on paper and aggressive on the field. As the two giants clash at The Oval on Sunday, it is safe to say that this would be a mouth-watering contest. Probably even bigger and more meaningful than India vs Pakistan.
India vs Australia, 14th Match
Kennington Oval, London (03:00 PM)
It’s no surprise that the Aussies enjoy a comfortable lead against India in World Cup encounters. Virat Kohli and co. would like to erase the memories of their last home series against Australia, which they ended up losing 2-3. Also, the last time both teams met in the World Cup, Australia handed a 95-run thrashing to India in the semi-final and knocked them out of the tournament.
Aaron Finch vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar
The Australian captain has been dismissed by India’s swing bowler on 4 occasions since April 01, 2015. Finch has managed to score just 86 runs from 133 balls against Bhuvneshwar.
Virat Kohli vs Nathan Coulter-Nile
India’s premier batsman has a susceptible record against the Australian seamer. Kohli has been dismissed by Coulter-Nile thrice and has only scored 47 runs from 71 balls against him.
Since the 2015 World cup, seam bowlers have taken 143 wickets at the Kennington Oval whereas the spin department has only accounted for 45. If India decide to go as per the record books, they might swap Kuldeep Yadav for the extra pace of Mohammed Shami. Australia clearly struggled against the pace and bounce of the West Indies bowlers, and India wouldn’t mind employing a similar strategy. With Rohit Sharma finding early form, they would back their batters to go big on a traditional batting wicket.
For Australia, their top order failure in the previous match will certainly be a topic of discussion. They will need to be extra careful against Jasprit Bumrah, who’s bowling beautifully and the tricky Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The lack of a fifth bowling option could force Australia to replace either Marcus Stoinis or Glenn Maxwell and bring in one of Kane Richardson and Jason Behrendorff. Knowing how uncomfortable the Indian openers can get against left-arm pace, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to attack them with two left-arm fast bowlers (Starc & Behrendorff).
India: S Dhawan, R Sharma, V Kohli, KL Rahul, MS Dhoni, H Pandya, K Jadhav, B Kumar, Y Chahal, M Shami, J Bumrah
Australia: D Warner, A Finch, U Khawaja, S Smith, M Stoinis, Alex Carey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Jason Behrendorff