India Vs Australia
Starting time: 2:30 IST
Ahmedabad, March 24: Going into the high-stakes quarterfinal of the World Cup 2011, India may be inclined to think that they are on top of their slated opponents - the Aussies, having beaten them in the two sides' last one-day engagement as well in the World Cup warm-up match last month. Those victories may in turn allow a smattering of over-confidence to settle on the home team's outlook, which India must guard against.
Rather, India should be wary of the fact that in the 21 encounters against the side from Down Under since the last World Cup, they have claimed victory just 8 times, losing to the Aussies on 10 occasions with 3 no-results.
It indeed looks like India are up against a tough opposition in Australia. But as far as the number game goes, India has some encouraging figures to fall back on. A total of 6 batsmen in India's World Cup squad have notched up centuries against the Aussies since the last quadrennial event, with Tendulkar emerging as the top run-getter with an average of 45.55 and a strike rate of nearly 80.
In terms of the figures in the World Cup 2011, the Little Master is India's highest run-getter and the third in the tournament presently. He also bears a decent average of 39.10, topped by the in-blistering-form Yuvraj Singh who is at 94.66 and who is followed by Virender Sehwag at 47.40. India's next best batsmen are also in reasonable knick - M S Dhoni (39.00), Gautam Gambhir (36.50) and Virat Kohli (35.80).
Meanwhile, the form of the top three batters in the Aussie camp in quite ominous with Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke both averaging around 55.00 and Shane Watson running them a close second with 53.00. But there are also concerns in the middle order with Ricky Ponting (avg: 20.40) and Michael Hussey (avg: 26.66) not at their impressive best.
But Australia's real strength lies in their bowling with thier pace trio of Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait and Brett Lee having taken 32 wickets between them in the group stage of the Cup. Lee in particular, has been on song, garnering a dozen wickets at 15.83 runs conceded per scalp.
However, his Indian counterpart Zaheer Khan had trumped him with 15 wickets from 6 matches at 14.83. But Zaheer's support has been weak with Munaf Patel only managing 9 wickets from 5 outings at an average of 22.22.
In terms of India's spin resources, it will interesting to see if the home side plays leg-break Piyush Chawla (who picked up 4 wickets in the warm-up against Australia) over off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who had an impressive last game against the Windies, finishing with 2 scalps. Or if the spin twins will both be used.
All in all, India's quarterfinal match up against the World Champions Australia promises to a real cracker of an encounter. The big question is - will India be the side to put an end to the Aussies' era of domination? Legions of Indian fans will be hoping and praying that it does just that...