World Cup 2nd Semi-Final: Australia vs India at Sydney
The two most high-profile teams in international cricket both enter this match in brilliant form. Australia have won 16 of their past 18 completed ODIs and have been beaten just once at this tournament and that by the smallest of margins, away from home against the rampant New Zealand lineup. India, meanwhile, have won all seven of their games at this World Cup and were dominant in their victory over Bangladesh in the quarter finals. However, they may have a mental hurdle to overcome against Australia, who bullied them in the Test series and ODI tri-series that preceded this tournament. India are ill suited to facing Australia on the fast, bouncy pitches down under. They have won only four of their past 12 games away from home against Australia. India’s batting lineup has been in wonderful touch the past month, with their entire top six returning solid statistics. But they are yet to be tested by the kind of express pace and hostility Australia boast in their bowling attack. Left arm fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson both have intimidated the Indian batsmen in the past and will look to do so again. Given their better spin options, India will hope that the Sydney pitch is as dry and slow as it was in the quarter final between Sri Lanka and South Africa. Even then it is hard to see India manufacturing an upset win over the home side. Australia’s superior pace attack and deeper batting lineup will earn them the win.
Mitchell Johnson vs Rohit Sharma:
The Australian pace spearhead has had an underwhelming World Cup. Despite recording the very tidy figures of 10 wickets at an average of 25 so far, he has been short of his menacing best. There were signs in Australia’s quarter final win over Pakistan that he was building in confidence. Johnson bowled with greater intensity and direction than he’d displayed in previous matches. If he builds on that effort and produces something close to his peak in this game he could win the match off his own back. Johnson will try to use his venomous short deliveries to unsettle India’s dynamic opener Rohit Sharma. The Indian strokemaker is arguably his side’s most important player and when he makes runs India very rarely lose.