A foolproof plan to beat the Men in Blue will be pivotal for Australia in their bid to win the 50-over World Cup crown for the sixth time.
The Australians, on an eight-game unbeaten streak, have appeared to be the only team that could give this Indian side some competition and run them close.
Besides, the familiarity with the Rohit Sharma-led unit, having played them seven times so far this year in ODIs — all of them in India — also seems to bode well for Pat Cummins and his teammates.
“We got one in that series (in late September), which we lost 2-1. But we’ve played them a lot of times. We know them (India) inside out and it’s the same with them,” pacer Josh Hazlewood said after Australia’s three-wicket win over South Africa in Thursday’s semi-final at Eden Gardens.
“They’re a quality team. No real weaknesses as they’ve got good quicks, good spinners, good batters and are ticking every box. So yeah, look forward to playing them on Sunday.”
Australia are the only side that had put India under serious pressure in the competition, reducing them to 2/3 with only 200 runs to defend in their campaign opener in Chennai back on October 8. Hazlewood had landed India a double blow in that game, dismissing Rohit and Shreyas Iyer in his first over.
“We saw a few cracks when we played them in Chennai when they were chasing a small target. I was lucky enough to get a couple (of wickets) early,” Hazlewood stated.
Mitchell Starc celebrates after dismissing Aiden Markram at the Eden on Thursday. Picture by Sanat Kr Sinha
The pitch in Ahmedabad favours the batters, and the kind of assistance that was on offer for the Australian quicks from the overcast conditions at the Eden on Thursday will, in all probability, not be there.
With captain Rohit and the rest of the India top order in such scintillating form, Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Cummins have an uphill task ahead.
“It’s all about sticking to what the trio have been doing so far without trying to do anything different. The onus should be on striking inside the first five overs,” former Australia pacer Shaun Tait, who’s at present working for the West Indies ‘A’ in Johannesburg, told The Telegraph on Friday.
Should the focus then be on bowling outside the off-stump or on that channel to thwart the likes of Rohit, Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer?
“That could be the ploy for Josh. But as far as Starc is concerned, he’ll target the stumps on the lookout for wickets and if he can swing one in to Rohit in the process, it can’t get anything better for Australia,” Tait, who represented Australia in 3 Tests, 35 ODIs and 21 T20Is, said.
The Australians are confident of adapting to the conditions at Motera. “That’s the beauty of having so many grounds in one country that — from north to south, east to west — they’re all a little bit different.
“You adapt your bowling, adapt your batting to those conditions and we saw tonight (Thursday) it really spun and for us,” Hazlewood said, adding: “We played England in Ahmedabad and the wicket was good without being an absolute flat track. We expect something similar.”