Bridgetown, Barbados: After two comfortable wins in the league stage, India take on Australia in a crunch game on Friday as the two formidable opponents square off in their first Super Eight game on the bouncy track of the Kensington Oval here. India notched up fine wins against Afghanistan and South Africa in back-to-back games on the slow turning track at St Lucia and have since been well rested with a six-day break. The batsmen have carried their good form from the IPL and that augurs well for the team who will now take on the formidable pace battery of Australia.Barring Gautam Gambhir, who sat out in the game against the Proteas due to a stomach bug, all the other batsmen got a decent knock. Even though Murali Vijay made a golden duck in the last match, he showed his class in the first game against Afghanistan.
Already, much has been said and written about the batting prowess of Suresh Raina, whose 60-ball 101 was the difference between the two sides at the end. Yuvraj Singh had a good outing in both the matches while skipper MS Dhoni knows how to shift gears according to different situations. And both Yusuf Pathan and Ravidra Jadeja are sure to make it count once they get a chance.It’s Team India’s bowling though that looks like a well-oiled unit and will need to continue firing right through the championship. India next take on West Indies and Sri Lanka in this stage and having a spinner like Harbhajan Singh on a bouncy track gives India a definite edge.The pace trio of Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan and Praveen Kumar have also looked at their best in the last two games. Nehra’s came good with the shorter delivery against Afghanistan and Praveen’s ability to swing the ball both ways will trouble the top order of any team.
Though Dhoni went for Piyush Chawla in place of Zaheer against the Graeme Smith-led side, it is highly unlikely that the move will be repeated on the fast-paced Barbados wicket. With Harbhajan Singh, Jadeja and Pathan, Dhoni has potent spin bowling options. It will be interesting to see whether the Indian captain goes for another seamer R Vinay Kumar or sticks with the available spin combination.On the other hand, Australia will once again rely heavily on their pace quartet of Dirk Nannes, Shaun Tait, Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris, which will not shy to test the Indian batsmen with short-pitch stuff. Shane Watson is a proven lad in this format and will fill the gap of fifth bowler for his side.They will look for some variety from the spin combination of David Hussey and Michael Clarke and if needed from Cameron White.The opening combination of David Warner and Watson will look to tear the Indian bowlers apart with their fearsome batting while the skipper Clarke, Michael Hussey and his brother David will give stability to their middle order.