The India-Australia rivalry in recent times has been one of the most fascinating rivalries in the game. The two sides have been involved in some absolute thrillers and the passion with which the two sides fight it out in the middle is simply scintillating.
Earlier this year, Australia put India on the backfoot with a 4-1 series victory in the ODI series. However, things turned dramatically barely a week after the ODI series, as the inclusion of experience and raw passion turned India’s fortunes for the good in the T20I’s. The Indians whitewashed Australia 3-0 and since then, the MS Dhoni led unit has not looked back.
The two teams now stand at crossroads and will play a virtual quarter final at the iconic PCA Stadium in Mohali. The team winning it will qualify for the semi finals and will be another step closer to clinching the title. Going into the contest, it is fair to assert that the hosts start as the favorites. Their game against Bangladesh was nothing short of a heist and that would provide them with great confidence. Australia too have been in a rhythm of sorts after a comprehensive victory over Pakistan at the same venue.
India might be the favorites, but that’s just on paper as of now. In order to qualify for the semi finals, the Indians will have to take care of a few extremely vital points. In this article, we analyze the five aspects which MS Dhoni’s boys need to take care of, in order to defeat Australia.
- Openers must fire:
The opening combo of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma had a great bearing upon India’s success Down Under in the T20I’s. After having opening stands of 40, 97 and 46 in the T20I series against the Kangaroos, the two have fizzled out as a combo.
Barring a partnership of 75 against Sri Lanka at Ranchi, the two don’t have impressive numbers. Since the Asia Cup, they average a mere 17.71 as a pair and that has just added burden on the middle order.
Against Australia, it will be imperative for the dashing duo to provide India a solid start. If they provide India a smashing start, then the job for the likes of Kohli and Dhoni will be far simpler.
- Dismiss Steve Smith early:
Steve Smith’s T20I credentials may not be too intimidating, but on his day, he is a genuine match winner. And what more than the prospect of facing his favorite opponent on a good wicket? The Indians must be wary of Smith after his entertaining knock against Pakistan.
Smith has always enjoyed playing against India and when the men in blue were thrashed in the semi final of the 2015 World Cup, it was Smith’s ton which dented the Indians. The Indians would do themselves a massive favor, if they manage to get rid of Smith early. He can be unorthodox and has the ability to take the game away from the opposition once set.
- Build momentum in overs 7-15:
The middle overs in a T20I are as significant as the powerplay and the death overs. It is during this phase where the benefits of a good start are put to the fore and a team’s position is strengthened. When Australia lost to New Zealand at Dharamsala, a major cause of their defeat was their lackluster performance in the middle overs.
In between overs 7-15 at Dharamsala, the Australians scored just 48 runs and lost 2 wickets. The Indians must note this factor and ensure that the batsmen build on the momentum in the middle overs. It is during this stage where the ability of a batsman to rotate the strike and milking the one’s and two’s comes into the picture.
In so many ways, for India to succeed in the middle overs, Virat Kohli will have to be around and be the guiding force for the men in blue.
- Begin with spin:
With Shane Watson batting lower down the order, R. Ashwin’s role at the top becomes even more important. Usman Khawaja has been in top form off late, and dismissing him early will be the key for India.
Being a left hander, R. Ashwin will hold the aces against him and it would be no surprise if Ashwin shares the new ball along with Ashish Nehra. With Warner stated to bat at 3, Ashwin’s role at the top becomes even more significant. Ashwin will find great assistance from the deck and his strikes at the top will be just the perfect thing for India.
- Yuvraj Singh must fire and be back at his best:
With a batting average of 65.5 and a strike rate almost touching 167 against Australia in T20I’s, it is fair to say that Yuvraj Singh is India’s X factor. The flamboyant southpaw has 3 half centuries against the Kangaroos, two of which came in World T20’s.
In the very first edition of the World T20, Yuvraj smashed Australia into smithereens at Durban as he scored a rampaging 70 off 30 deliveries.
Though his record at Mohali hasn’t been impressive, Yuvraj will definitely enjoy batting there as the pitch will surely suit his batting style. Against his favorite opposition at his home ground, one can expect fireworks from India’s biggest match winner.