Johannesburg: Retired South African bowling great Allan Donald believes India can prevent Australia from retaining the World Cup, provided it bats second in an expected final between the two."Only India has the goods to beat the Australians," Donald wrote in his syndicated column. "The best way to take on Australia is to beat it at its own game."Australia and India are favourites to make the final at the Wanderers next Sunday. Australia takes on Sri Lanka in the first semi-final on Tuesday, while India plays Kenya on Thursday.
Donald, South Africa's leading fast bowler who quit the game earlier this month after the hosts were knocked out in the first round, said the key to beating Australia lay in the opening few overs."This is not very easy, because the Australians always are able to start well," he wrote. "Whether it is batting or bowling, the opening duo invariably wrests the initiative from the opposition. Their batters always try to score at four or five an over, while Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee make inroads into the opposition's top order.
"If they meet India in the final, they will try to replicate the bowling plan that worked so well for them in the league game at Centurion last month (which India lost by nine wickets after being shot out for their lowest World Cup total of 125)."Lee and McGrath will try and bowl two lengths, either full or short, while Andy Bichel would try to tighten things up. However, these tactics worked a month ago when the Indians were short on confidence. Since then all the batsmen have gradually found form, and now they are brimming with confidence.
"India has won eight of its nine games so far, while Australia is the only team with an unbeaten record in the tournament. Donald advised Indian captain Saurav Ganguly to bat second if he won the toss in the final."India would find it easier to play Australia if it bats second. When it bats first, it seems too anxious to preserve wickets in the first 15 overs, and doesn't play too well in that period. Batting second will make it more relaxed as there is a tangible target."Speaking of targets, I am sure the main target for the Australians will be the scalp of Sachin Tendulkar.
He himself would know that the ball will be flying past his nose right through the opening spell of Lee and McGrath."Tendulkar is in sublime form, and I doubt that he will be intimidated or subdued by anything the Australians dish it out for him. This Indian team is hot. It started slowly and has built up the momentum nicely. Australia also looks hot, but it reminds me of our 1996 campaign where we won everything, till we ran across Brian Lara in the quarters."Sometimes, playing so well for so long just implies that a reversal is coming up soon. Who knows, India, which broke Australia's 16-Test winning streak, could also break its record streak in One-dayers," Donald wrote.Copyright AFP 2001