WC15: India v Australia

26 Mar 2015



Match scheduled to begin at 14:30 local time (03:30 GMT)

Current time 14:00 local, 03:00 GMT | Match begins in: 0:30
Australia Squad
MJ Clarke*, GJ Bailey, PJ Cummins, XJ Doherty, JP Faulkner, AJ Finch, BJ Haddin†, JR Hazlewood, MG Johnson,MR Marsh, GJ Maxwell, SPD Smith, MA Starc, DA Warner, SR Watson
India Squad
MS Dhoni*†, R Ashwin, STR Binny, S Dhawan, RA Jadeja, V Kohli, B Kumar, Mohammed Shami, AR Patel, AM Rahane, SK Raina, AT Rayudu, MM Sharma, RG Sharma, UT Yadav

1.50pm ten minutes to the toss, and crowd is still a little thin. The gates were flung open at 1pm. The split if 50-50 India-Australia in the stands right now, according to Sharda Ugra. Daniel Brettig, though, says it is blue overhead and blue in the stands

Sai: ""India are playing football even as Australia practise throwing stumps down"..this is the best one could hear. What a cool attitude the team has built under MS"

1.45pm A very instructive interview of Shikhar Dhawan on Star Sports. Talks about how failure makes him enjoy success more. Asked about weaknesses in the opposition, he picks out the lack of a specialist spinners, and almost in an off-the-cuff manner says Johnson will give you loose balls. Asked about the lip expected from the Australian bowlers, he says you don't need to respond to them, and quotes a Sufi poet, "Jinnoo sunnah aa gaya onnu bolan di ki lod." [Once you learn how to listen, you don't need to speak."]

Staying with different preparations, Sharda Ugra has noticed India are playing football even as Australia practise throwing stumps down

"Is bleeding blue a good enough reason for sick leave? :P" ckjk, it might actually be time to leave your job and check yourself into a serious long-term health care if you are bleeding blue, yellow, green etc. Anything other than red, and you shouldn't be thinking just sick leave

1.30pm As Darren Lehmann talks in the Australian huddle, a look at how differently the two teams have approached the preparation. India - as they have under MS Dhoni - have been pretending these are just normal games. They don't want to psyche themselves up, they don't want the occasion to get to them, their method has been to let the other teams who have worked themselves up into a frenzy make the mistakes, and then strike at the right moment with a certain finality

Australia, on the other hand, have acknowledged this is the big stage, and they have been preparing in a manner to actively go out and calm themselves down before the start. They have had Steve Waugh at their nets, they had former prime minister Bob Hawke drop in, they had Shane Warne in the nets yesterday. They have been talking to those who have achieved under pressure. As Shane Warne said, he just went about asking the players what their worries were going into the big match, and listened to them, and told them they didn't need to worry about half of them and talked them through the other half.

Australia have been talking up this match every day since the quarterfinal where India have stayed away from press conferences

A clash of preparation cultures too. Half an hour to go to the toss

rickyvoncanterb: "Geeze, talk about pressure, if they do not win today, and they do not win mickey mouse tournaments what else is there?"

1.15pm Weather is perfect, says the excited Sharda Ugra from SCG. No signs of rain anywhere

The pitches throughout the summer have been a thorny issue. In the Tests Brisbane didn't live up to its reputation of being a quick pitch, Melbourne and Sydney were desperately flat and lifeless, and during the World Cup Perth and Sydney have hardly hosted a game of importance. In the lead-up to this game Australia went on record saying they hoped there would be some assistance for their quicks, but they can, well, forget about it. This pitch is flat as

Alex: "In the middle of a philosophy lecture. I probably should be paying attention instead of already having my heart in my mouth "

Boll: "I presume one of those Mickey Mouse tournaments Ravi Shastri refers to is The Border-Gavaskar Trophy...?"

1.05pm Those Mickey Mouse tournaments are over," says Ravi Shastri, India's team director of the three winless months in and against Australia before the World Cup began. "No scars. That's just baggage, this is the big one. We are the favourites, the pressure is on Australia.

"I feel like putting my blues on and coming out, 30 years to the day - and the boys know it - we beat New Zealand in the semi-final of the World Championship of Cricket. I was the Man of the Match. I have told the boys if we get a Man of the Match today, history might just repeat itself."

He is a great motivating force I can imagine, but Ravi your semi-final win over New Zealand in 1985 came on March 5. So that's 30 years and 21 days to the day. Sorry for being a pedant

1pm So it comes down to this. After 19 days of bitterly contested Test cricket, after one ODI and a bit in the triangular, it is down to this night in Sydney. Both the sides have had an emotionally testing summer. Australia lost a player, a mate, a son to a bouncer at this very venue just before the start of the summer. For India any away Test tour is an emotionally sapping one. This one was in Australia, with whom they believe losing control of your emotions on the field hurts the opposition more. To add to that their Test captain retired midway during the series. In his own style, that same captain has galvanised the team in the World Cup, winless for close to three months in the Australian summer, and undefeated since the start of the Cup. Australia will be happy to know it is India because they have beaten them before, but they will also be annoyed because India have much less to lose, and just that they are still here in their prickly manner.

Both the sides have played excellent cricket to get here. Now we must say goodbye to one of them. Before that let's see how Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan tackle Mitchell Starc's swing and Mitchell Johnson's hostility. How David Warner and Aaron Finch go against the barely recognisable Indian pace attack from how ordinary they were in the Tests. How well Josh Hazlewood and India's spinners support their lead bowlers. How well the middle orders face pressure. Does MS Dhoni, struggling to hit the ball when the need of the hour is around two a ball, have a few more finishes left? Does Michael Clarke, fighting against his own brittle body and a summer that has tested him emotionally as much as it has anyone, have a few more perfectly paced middle-overs innings left in him? What's Glenn Maxwell's plan?

Also - and this might be inevitable given how they played before the others arrived in Australia - Warner and Virat Kohli might be at each other's throat. Rohit might get cheeky, but will he be as cheeky as Brad Haddin? This won't be as clean a semi-final as the one between New Zealand and South Africa. These are different teams: overexposed as cricketers, ridden with persecution complex, also genuine believers that abusing an opponent is a) fair dinkum and b) psychologically effective. At least let's hope the fielding will be cleaner than the other night in Auckland. One final night before these two teams are out of each other's hair for a while. Problem is, only one of the teams will be happier for it

This is Sidharth Monga calling the first innings before Alan Gardner takes over for the second. Toss in an hour


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