It promises to be a high-voltage 2019 World Cup clash in London on Sunday when defending champions Australia take on India.
Australia had to dig deep to taste victory after being reduced to 38-4 against West Indies in their previous game. Australia’s top order was blown away by Windies quicks and it took a stunning 92 from quick Nathan Coulter-Nile to put up an ultimately winning score of 288.
India arrive in London high on confidence after thumping South Africa by six wickets. India’s bowlers and batsmen gave South Africa no breathing space in Southampton and will be pleased with the effort of their entire squad.
Ahead of the super showdown, we take a look at three key clashes that could shape the contest.
VIRAT KOHLI v MITCHELL STARC
Top batsman against a top fast bowler. It can’t possibly get more enticing than this. Virat Kohli will have a point to prove after getting out cheaply against South Africa – where Rohit Sharma lead the way with an unbeaten century. But the India captain can’t be kept quiet for long in 50-over cricket. While Australia have a lethal pace bowling line-up, Kohli will be looking to fight fire with fire and make a statement early in the tournament against a team that tends to bring the best out of him.
And looking to stop Kohli in his tracks will be Aussie pace ace Mitchell Starc. The left-arm quick sent out a warning to all batsmen in the opening game with his bustling spell against the Windies, where he finished with five wickets. He is bowling quick and getting late swing, making it almost impossible to survive against him, let alone score.
Rohit Sharma was asked in PC about Aaron Finch saying Steve Smith is the best batsman (and implying not Virat Kohli): “These comparisons will keep happening until these two are playing. This is for you to decide and not for me.” #CWC19 #IndvAus— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) June 8, 2019
JASPRIT BUMRAH V DAVID WARNER
Another blockbuster clash between two players in excellent form. South Africa struggled to put bat to ball against Bumrah as the ace India quick got the ball to bend around corners and forced the batsmen on the backfoot. He is one bowler who is absolutely on top of his game and will be a nightmare to negotiate if the pitch has even a little bit in it.
Australia will be banking on David Warner to unsettle Bumrah up front. If the Aussies just allow Bumrah to do his thing, the Indians will be all over the defending champions. Australia have played India enough to recognise the threat Bumrah poses. Warner knows if Bumrah can be taken out of the equation, the rest of India’s bowling can be handled. Australia, after all, won a closely fought ODI series in India earlier this year.
HARDIK PANDYA v GLENN MAXWELL
Two of the most dynamic all-rounders in world cricket. There is very little that both Hardik Pandya and Glenn Maxwell can’t do on a cricket field. They can change the complexion of the match with the bat, ball and in the field. And both play the crucial role of fourth/fifth bowler and hard-hitting lower order batsman.
While India will be relying more on Pandya’s seamers to support the two main quicks, Australia will ask Maxwell to take more responsibility with the bat after his rash pull shot against the West Indies almost lost them the game in the opening hour.
Both can win the game on their own as the two are blessed with that rare quality – ‘x-factor’.
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