It’s a do-or-die game for both sides and India, with the rain in Sydney, will consider themselves fortunate to get into this position with a chance of making it to the finals. This would also be a dress rehearsal for the sides as with the format of this World Cup, what matters most is how the teams play in the last eight, as all those games will knock one out.
Such is the format that good teams have to beat the minnows and qualify for that stage. So it’s about holding nerves and being the best team on that day.
India is playing England twice in this series, once already in Brisbane and in Perth. The reason I say this is, these are two of the quickest surfaces in Australia and the combination of sides will be the key to success in this game.
The WACA will offer a lot more pace and carry then Brisbane and India will have to put those thoughts out of their minds and start afresh. England outplayed them on that pitch at Gabba and will feel that this one at Perth will suit them a whole lot more than the Indians.
If you look at this England team, their performance has been a lot better than we saw in England last summer, where they looked confused between aggression and defence in one-day cricket. This is a very fine balance and England hardly got it right. But now, with all the criticism and some tough decisions by their selectors in the last few months, they have played with more purpose. Once again, their strong seam attack will enjoy bowling in Perth and push India on the back foot.
India have a few decisions to make. Do they continue with Shikhar at the top or bring in a new player? The injury to Rohit has not allowed them a change at the top but Shikhar’s form will be a huge worry. It has become more of a technical issue rather than form at the moment and he has to find a way out of it. The shot selection will also have to be different on this surface. The bounce at Gabba allowed a lot of balls hit the ‘slice’ of the bat and Indians will have to adjust to this very quickly.
In terms of composition, it is a surface for quicks and they should have three quicks with Stuart Binny. It will also be a chance to test Jadeja before the World Cup and it is how India bat on this surface that will decide whether they make it to the final. If I was team management, I would have rested Shami and Yadav irrespective of the importance of the game.
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