Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Australia have the advantage

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Australia should take care of business versus India based on recent form. India will have to lift their game up by several notches if they are to win. Australia can be counted upon to be disciplined in their execution. From a batting stand-point, they will likely blunt Harbhajan and Zaheer well and score against the remaining bowlers. Ashwin and Yuvraj will be the key to India's bowling fortunes because they are likely to be attacked by Australia. Ashwin is likely to be tight, but Munaf and Yuvraj could give it away.

Shane Watson, Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin will be the key to Australia’s batting fortunes at Motera. Australia is unlikely to be affected by the crowds. They have played enough in India and the Indian crowds respect the Aussies. The crowds love Mike Hussey and Brett Lee. Ponting and Clarke could be at the receiving end of crowd abuse and this can upset both, but in the overall scheme of things will not make much of an impact. In fact, the crowd could turn against the home team, if Australia make early inroads and this could work in Australia's favor.

From a bowling stand-point, Australia will prove to be formidable for India. Brett Lee has been bowling extremely well. Mitchell Johnson has blown hot and cold against India, but has lately recovered his form. There is enough pace bowling variety for Australia to knock India over. India doesn’t play fast bowlers well, except on pure featherbeds. Recent multi-lateral tournaments have proven India’s weaknesses against rib-cage bowling. Australia will dish enough out for Gambhir and Kohli to be extremely uncomfortable. Even if Tendulkar were to hold fort, he might not find enough support at the other end.

This seems to be the most likely script.

In order for India to pull off an upset, they have to chase. They have to put Australia in and count on their bowling to keep Australia down to a total below 300. This will allow India to plan their chase well and with Tendulkar in the lead off, they could win. Australia have lost a lot of experienced batsmen and might not be clear about what target to set and a few early wickets could upset their rhythm. India have lost their last four games in Ahmedabad. They are also not good chasers against Australia traditionally. But if they are to be counted as a contender, they have to master the chasing trick versus fast bowlers.

Once again, Yuvraj will be the key to finishing off the game and taking India home. He does have broad shoulders, but will the game go to script? Will India overcome their demons against short pitched high speed bowling?

My prediction is that India will come to the party and manage a win.

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