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’.
New Zealand will be looking to make it three wins out of three at the 2019 World Cup when they take on Afghanistan in Taunton on Saturday.
Trent Boult and Matt Henry have been formidable with the new ball and will be desperate to have a go at the Afghan line-up on a green surface.
Afghanistan will also to have manage without veteran wicketkeeper batsman Mohammad Shahzad who is out due to a knee injury.
Who will prevail on Saturday? Catch the live updates below.
The pitch conditions, allied to the short straight boundaries at Sophia Gardens, prompted tournament hosts England to drop off-spinner Moeen Ali and recall paceman Liam Plunkett.
But leg-spinner Adil Rashid, whose five wicketless overs against Pakistan cost an expensive 43 runs, retained his place. Bangladesh were unchanged.
“The pitch has been under cover for the last two days and hopefully it will give the bowlers some assistance,” said Mortaza.
“The last two matches, we have played well. Hopefully we can continue that today. We have to play at our best to beat this England team. It won’t be easy.”
England captain Eoin Morgan said: “It’s not a problem batting first. Hopefully today we’ll show the Pakistan game was a blip.
“We’ve played some good cricket in the tournament so far. A lot of our guys have taken advantage of home comforts this week and we’ll try and do the same after today’s game.”
The sides have each won one and lost one of their two World Cup matches so far.
Both came into this fixture on the back of defeats. England were surprisingly beaten by Pakistan while Bangladesh lost narrowly to New Zealand.
Bangladesh beat England in both the 2011 and 2015 Word Cups.
Follow ball-by-ball updates below