India will take on Australia in the second semi-final of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup at Sydney on Thursday. Although India have been unbeaten in the event so far, hosts Australia would be the favourite as the teams clash on Thursday. Here's a look at some key battles that could go a long way in deciding who meets New Zealand at the MCG on super Sunday.
Shikhar Dhawan vs Mitchell Starc: The Indian opener may have struggled in the run up to the World Cup. But, in the tournament that has mattered, he has two hundreds and a fifty to show. Dhawan would be keen to continue his good run, and score big against the Aussies. It will be his sternest test since Australia have had his number. Starc is someone who troubled the left-hander constantly in the tri-series. He will be keen to continue the same in the World Cup as well, in what will be a make or break encounter for both sides. If Dhawan can see through the Starc threat, he might be able to flourish against Australia as well.
Virat Kohli vs Mitchell Johnson: Talk about fighting fire with fire in the contest, and these two names will instantly come to mind. Kohli and Johnson are as combative as one can get in their aggressive play, and sledgefest as well. Neither will look to back away in this mouth-watering contest. Kohli and Johnson have had a few tense battles over the years, but there hasn't been a clear winner as yet. To add to the intrigue, neither has been in great form of late. Kohli began with a ton, but hasn't done much since while Johnson has been on and off. Both would be raring to go.
David Warner vs Mohammed Shami: There is an amazing parallel between Dhawan and Shami in the series. Both were seen as weak links in the batting and bowling department respectively before the World Cup got underway. But, like Dhawan, Shami has also overturned his fortunes. He has bowled splendidly at the top, and has picked up key wickets in the middle as well. However, he has had a torrid time against Australia in the last couple of months. Warner has been extremely severe on him at the start, not allowing him to settle at all. He would be keen to extend the advantage on the biggest of all stages.
Ravichandran Ashwin vs Glenn Maxwell: If there is one pitch in Australia where the Indian offie would enjoy bowling, it is definitely the SCG. Irrespective of their fact that India have a dismal record at the venue in ODIs, Ashwin would be buoyed by the fact that JP Duminy and Imran Tahir got great purchase from the surface. Ashwin will also be keen to do the same. The good thing for India is that he has been among the wickets in the tournament. One man who can completely destroy Ashwin's threat perception is Maxwell. Yes, Steven Smith, Michael Clarke and Shane Watson are also good players of spin, but if Maxwell gets his act right, he could do significant damage to Ashwin's figures.
MS Dhoni vs Michael Clarke: Captain versus captain. This battle will be played more in the mind than on the field. While both Dhoni and Clarke are dangerous batsmen in their own right, it will be their leadership skills that would be under the scanner. Every move of theirs will be scrutinised minutely, and every possible mistake made will be magnified. In terms of skill and experience, Dhoni has a slight edge over Clarke the captain. But, when it comes to leading Australia, often being the captain is enough as the players know the job perfectly.
--By A Cricket Analyst