India begin their quest to get into the semi finals of the ICC World Twenty Twenty by playing one of its strongest rivals in recent times, Australia. They had a similar tough super eight group way back in 2007 when they went on to win the trophy, and if they begin well by beating the Aussies then they could well repeat what they did in the first ever T20 World Cup.
This is the one event that the Australians have struggled to master and not for lack of trying. There is not a single game where the Aussies have not given off less than their best, but somehow they have not been able to crack this format.
The big bash which was the Australian answer to the Indian Premier League has certainly given them more experience of playing this format of the game, plus a lot of their players play in the Indian Premier League too, so they know the conditions in the sub continent. Their determination to win makes them dangerous opponents and any team that takes them lightly, do so at their own peril.
The T20 format is supposed to be a young man's game, but the Australians have a few players on the wrong side of 30s, who are still doing the job for them. According to the knowledgeable this is perhaps the first time that an Australian captain is a player, who is not a certainty in the team.
The Australians are known to pick their team first and then name a skipper from that squad so there is never any quibbling about who the leader is, but here they have George Bailey as the captain, who many Australians feel is not even a definite pick in their eleven. Bailey by the way plays for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League and has hardly got a look in the playing eleven so perhaps that tells a tale too.
Be that as it may, there are other players that India need to worry about mainly the openers, David Warner and Shane Watson. They can bludgeon any attack and get the team off to a flying start. It would be interesting to see if Dhoni opens the attack with a spinner, for both Warner and Watson like the ball to come on to their bats at pace especially at the start of their innings. The Hussey brothers are another dangerous pair of batsmen and as always the Australian athleticism will mean that they will steal the extra run as well as stop it while fielding.
India will in all probability go in with two seamers and two spinners, and Yuvraj to bowl his left arm spin. What is important is for India to get off to a good start too, for it is not fair to expect Virat Kohli to come good every time.
Sehwag has been out of sorts for some time now and having missed out on the big scores against New Zealand in the series back home he should be keen to make someone pay. His attitude and approach will be the key and if he along with Gambhir gets the team off to a quick start, then half the battle will be won.
It is going to be a tough opener to the super eight stage for India and a win will give them an enormous fillip to take on traditional rivals Pakistan, whom they play next.