The World T20 is a special affair for quite a few sides, but for two teams in particular, this World T20 is a matter of vengeance. India won the first ever World T20 in the year 2007 but since then have been woeful in other such tournaments. The "Men in Blue" failed to win a single game in the Super Eights stage. Australia on the other hand have never managed to go the entire distance and this happens the be the only world trophy that has never found its way to the Australian trophy cabinet.
With one side eager regain lost glory and another in pursuit of their first moment of fame, this contest promises to have all the ingredients required to concoct a high quality game of cricket.
India: In their last group stage game, India went in with a team that saw quite a few changes. Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla were brought in to the side and R.Ashwin and Zaheer Khan were rested. That change led to England being bowled out for a paltry score of just 80, with Harbhajan and Chawla managing to take six wickets collectively. With "the Turbanator" and Chawla coming good, Mahendra Singh Dhoni will have to think twice before opting to exclude either spinner when they take on Australia, a side that also has shown some difficulties against spin in the past.
Dhoni has hinted that he might go in with five bowlers and that particular strategy opens the door for an interesting tactic of fielding two pace bowlers and three spinners. In that scenario, India could go in with Ashwin, Harbhajan and Chawla, all of whom have shown semblance of good form. Apart from bringing in three in form bowlers, what it also does is reduce the damage caused by the pace bowlers. Irfan Pathan has been good with the new ball and he should make it to the playing XI owing to his capabilities with the bat. The fight for that one spot could be between Zaheer Khan and Lakshmipathy Balaji, that is if Zaheer remains fit to play.
As far as the batting goes, Dhoni will have to consider either giving Virender Sehwag an extended rest or he will have to axe one of the other batsmen in the line up, possibly Yuvraj Singh or Suresh Raina. The rest of the side should remain same as the one that played against England.
Australia: George Bailey has made it clear that his side are ready for the spin challenge and has acknowledged that this Indian bowling line up needs to be treated with respect. He has also stated that his side aren't totally dependent on Shane Watson and that they can do well as a team. "Do well" is exactly what they have done so far in this tournament. First the Australians demolished Ireland and after hammering West Indies all over the park for nine overs, they were helped by some rain as the Duckworth and Lewis method ruled in their favour.
With Watson and David Warner firing at the top for Australia, the middle order hasn't had too much time in the middle yet. Although the top order's success is a good sign for the Australians, it also means that the middle order might be put under immense pressure if that top order falters.
The bowling looked a little weak on Sri Lankan soil when it went up against the West Indies. Pat Cummins in particular was quite expensive as he went for 41 runs in his four overs and Glen Maxwell's spin was used just for the one over, owing to the fact that he conceded 17 runs. Perhaps Australia might be better suited to playing more than just one genuine spinner in these conditions and that could mean that either Cummins or Maxwell will have to make way for left arm orthodox, Xavier Doherty. Apart from that, there shouldn't be too many changes.
Dhoni on the five bowlers strategy: "We would most likely go in with five bowlers but I still don't know what will be the combination. It will be a fresh wicket and we have to take into consideration how it will be before the start of the match"
Bailey on the Indian bowlers: "We don't want to focus too heavily on one bowler. It's not that we focus too much on Harbhajan and don't focus on Ashwin. All the Indian bowlers are pretty good and we respect that fact."
Australia (From): David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Hussey, Cameron White, George Bailey(c), Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Christian, Matthew Wade(w), Brad Hogg, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, David Hussey, Clint McKay
India (From): Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni(w/c), Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Zaheer Khan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Ashok Dinda, Manoj Tiwary