Mumbai: India beat Bangladesh by 109 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the ICC Cricket World Cup on Thursday, courtesy a clinical batting display from Mumbai-born Rohit Sharma and with the win, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the Men in Blue have set up a semifinal clash with co-hosts Australia.
Another much awaited contest is edging closer and it’s going to be an evenly matched game. Seven matches, seven wins and seventy wickets is the equation Team India have as they come into the semifinals oozing with confidence and ready to fire a week later on Thursday, March 26 when two of the world’s best teams battle it out at the Sydney Cricket Ground with a spot in the finals at cricket’s grandest stage of them all.
This may sound interesting but both these sides have never faced each other in a semifinal of a World Cup. Previously they have faced each other in a league game, quarterfinals, super six and the final.
India have shown grit and confidence, without any doubt, how they have metamorphosed into a legend team in the making with their performance in the ongoing tournament. With disastrous results before the main event against Australia, both in the tri-series and the Tests, Team India have in a way reborn and are on a glorious ride so far, punching the odds with a consistent touch.
Beating all their previous opponents with ease and facing no eye-opening moment as such, a place in the semifinals was expected but the manner in which the team have reached there is stupendous.
Two more matches to go and Dhoni can become only the third captain after Clive Llyod (1975, 1979) and Ricky Ponting (2003, 2007) to successfully defend the title he lifted four years ago at a full-house Wankhede arena.
And he can certainly do it again but first has to cross the Aussie huddle, who look to be a well-oiled unit. There’s still a strong chance for a win in Dhoni’s favour.
Here’s why we think Team India will stand against the odds again and emerge victorious against Australia.
Mohammed Shami in great form
After facing a major blow before the World Cup in the form of Ishant Sharma’s exit, Mohammed Shami has stepped up and boy, has he been off to a rollicking start crashing the wood work in each of the six matches he played.
With tight lengths and clocking the 140kmph regularly, Shami has aced his performance. Don’t believe us – let the numbers do the talking. 17 wickets and number three on the leading wicket-takers list at CWC 15.
Suresh Raina is back to what he does the best
Not being consistent enough in the tournament was Suresh Raina’s past story but he has changed that with a stroke, not with good luck but with the sweet spot of his bat. The busy bee in the field, chirping encouragements from slip and generally the glue that binds the team, one can say Raina is back in form and a timely one that might just be the edge over Australia on Thursday.
He is only the fourth-highest scoring Indian batsman in the World Cup, after Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, but he has delivered three crucial innings for India in this campaign so far (110* against Zimbabwe, 65 against Bangladesh, 74 against Pakistan).
‘Sir’ Ravindra Jadeja has proved his prefix
Ravindra Jadeja’s form and performance was one of the main issues for Team Director Ravi Shastri, coach Duncan Fletcher and skipper Dhoni as they entered the knock-out stages. However, sporting a beard has worked for Jadeja and his last performance against Bangladesh bears truth of this.
Jadeja’s quickfire 23 with the bat coupled with two wickets, one vital one of experienced Shakib Al Hasan and being instrumental in a run out that of opener Imrul Kayes, Jadeja has upped his game and eased off the pressure from the team management. His role, going into the semis will prove vital and one hopes the beard does the trick again!
Come March 26 and India awaits semifinal glory and even though stats pit Australia as favourites, don’t count the Men in Blue out. If they’ve broken the South African jinx in the World Cup, taming the kangaroos, who lack that experienced spinner will the area Dhoni and company have to tap in order for batsmen to counterattack.