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Tommorow Sydney is going to be hot – World Cup 2015 Semi-Final: Fight between Ausi Vs Men in Blue

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Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 12:34 GMT, Mar 25, 2015 |
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India take on Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday. It’s going to be a riveting clash and on current form, MS Dhoni’s men are definitely on equal footing with the Aussies. India have won just a single game in the last 35 years at Sydney.

In less than 24 hours, the Indian team will be all set to play one of their toughest encounters of ICC World Cup 2015. Facing Australia on their own turf is tough.

Doing it in a semifinal of a world championship is tougher. India have been in splen did form. They started their campaign on the back of some really poor performances but the ICC event seemed to have flicked the switch on in them.

They have beaten bigger teams and crushed the minnows. Then again, cruising through group stages is one thing and facing the Aussies in a knockout game is a different kettle of fish. At the Sydney Cricket Ground, MS Dhoni’s men need to turn up with their A-plus game.

India, as a unit, have been in sparkling form. The bowling has undergone a massive make over, the batting has chipped in and the fielding has been electric.

However, there are a couple of blind spots that the team management needs to address before the all-important semis.

Shikhar Dhawan has scored runs. Rohit Sharma has scored runs. They haven’t scored enough runs together. Individually, both Indian openers have contributed to the team’s cause but as a pair they haven’t done enough.

Barring the game against Ireland, where the Indian openers put on 174 runs, India have always lost a wicket up front. Against Australia, this trend needs to be reversed. The openers need to see out the opening burst from Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. Starc has been devastating and takes wicket in a bunch.

The Indian openers need to blunt this threat and give India a solid start if not a blazing one.The first blind spot leads to the next one. If India lose an early wicket, Virat Kohli will have to face Starc with the new ball. Kohli has had a mixed tournament. He started off with a classy hundred against Pakistan but since then, hasn’t got going.

He’s made some pretty thirties and has been involved in quite a few key partnerships but then, India expect much more from the Delhi lad.

Kohli is due a big one and the Indian fans would be delighted if the 25-year-old takes things in his own hand against the Aussies. The Aussies will bully him but Kohli is a big match player. It doesn’t really get bigger than Australia in World Cup semis.

If India lose two wickets up front, that will expose another blind spot for them -Ajinkya Rahane. Except for the South Africa game, India have not needed his services. He has been pushed down the order a bit to promote the hard-hitting Suresh Raina but Rahane has just not been in his elements.

Against Australia, Rahane is a key player. Batting at four, he may need to play a dual role. If India lose a couple of early wickets, he will have to stand up against Starc and company. However, if India get off to a decent start, Rahane will be required to maximize the weak link of Australia — their fifth bowler.

India’s number three and four have not been in prime touch but come Australia will be the men around whom the innings would hinge on. India have managed to see off games without major contributions from them but at the SGC, against the Aussies, they will need to step-up their game.

It’s raining in Sydney and that could be a major spoiler for India. The pitch has been under covers and there has to be a lot of sweating on the track. India would definitely not a fancy an overcast SCG with a track with moisture in it against the Aussie pace battery. The sweating also negates the threat of Ravichandran Ashwin. The moisture may help the ball grip the surface a touch but MS Dhoni would have preferred a sunbaked SCG.

According to the experts SCG is a good venue for India to take on Australia but records suggest otherwise. The SCG has been kind to India in Tests but in the ODIs, India’s record at Sydney is appalling – 12 losses in 14 games against Australia. The men in blue have won just a single game in the last 35 years at Sydney.

It’s going to be a tough ask for India but then again, World Cup semis aren’t meant to be easy. The scales might be tipped in favor of the Aussies a bit but this Indian unit is highly adaptable and on current form is a definitely on equal footing with the Aussies.