Australia v India, World Cup 2015, 2nd semi-final, Sydney March 23, 2015

Sledging inevitable in Cup semi-final - Faulkner


Australia's allrounder James Faulkner believes instances of sledging will be inevitable in Thursday's high-stakes World Cup semi-final at the SCG, on a pitch that has already been the subject of enormous speculation and will continue to be all week.

The confrontation between Shane Watson and Pakistan's Wahab Riaz enlivened the tournament, even if the two combatants paid for their aggression and emotion with a pair of ICC fines. While India do not possess any bowler capable of matching Wahab for speed, Faulkner expected men on both sides to be replicating his attitude.

"I think there always is in the game, if there isn't you've got problems," Faulkner said. "It's the nature of the game, it's a semi-final, it's cut-throat. There's going to be words said and it's going to be a really tough contest. Neither team will be backing down."

Chances of Indian aggression being witnessed at the SCG have increased over the past month as MS Dhoni's team have found a fresh sense of purpose, direction and confidence over the course of a seven-match unbeaten run. Their form in this tournament is the exact opposite to what was glimpsed in the Tests and triangular series that preceded it - India had not won a match in three months down under before the Cup.

File photo - James Faulkner believes India and Australia will not hold back on aggression during the semi-final © Getty Images

"We have come up against them a hell of a lot over the last 12-18 months and they've spent a fair bit of time in the country," Faulkner said. "They've adapted well to the conditions. A lot of nerves were on show a couple of nights ago [in Adelaide] and I think that's good. Both teams are exposed and if you don't have nerves you've got issues."

Faulkner's press conference began with a question about whether or not the ICC's pitch overseer Andy Atkinson would need to be called in to ensure the surface was equitable. While the query went over the head of Faulkner, who rightly pointed out that he had not even seen the turf, it underlined curiosity about a pitch that has largely favoured spin over pace this season.

"A lot depends on the wicket," Faulkner said. "The last time we played here, the wicket was obviously very good against Sri Lanka. We made 360-odd, they made over 300. It was a great one-day wicket. If it's much like that, I'm expecting a lot of runs scored. If you look over the recent past, over there or here, you've seen a lot of runs.

"Against Sri Lanka, the wicket didn't really spin and it was quite easy to get hold of. I'm not too sure what make-up they'll go in with or what make-up we'll go in with. The wicket dictates a lot, so we'll wait and see what is come game day."

The hosts' subsequent inspection of the surface revealed the strip to be the same one used for South Africa's rapid quarter-final beating of Sri Lanka. It has been watered and brought back up again, and only the thinnest film of grass was evident on Monday afternoon. Clippings have been and will be rolled into the surface over the next few days, but it is difficult to see the pitch offering much in the way of moisture or assistance for pacemen.

Australia's best hope of seeing the sort of pitch they would prefer is likely to be rain, with showers forecast for Tuesday likely to keep the surface under the covers for some hours and prevent it from drying too much more. Either way, the Australians are ready for the likelihood of a crowd where Indian support will outweigh local fans.

"We were talking about it last night at dinner, the last game we played here it definitely felt like that," Faulkner said. "The passion the Indian fans show towards their cricket team is sensational, so we're definitely expecting that come match day."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ESPN on March 25, 2015, 16:57 GMT

    is sledging the only way Australia use to win games ? Surely, cricket is a sport of civilized people, such low down tactics should not be part of this game. When is Australia going to learn ? Let us keep cricket an honorable sport.

  • Michael on March 25, 2015, 13:04 GMT

    Sledging is always part of Australian game tactics but Warner should be "no balled" as he steps over the line in this regard. Suffers from short man's sysndrome is my only assessment :)

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2015, 9:32 GMT

    This could be the difference between NZ vs SA match and AUS vs IND match.

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2015, 8:46 GMT

    I Know aussies are a tough side to beat. I dont think indian team should be overconfident or too much watchful. they should just play there best cricket yet thats it. yes i want my country india to win, however in the same time the opposition has to be respected. If we play good cricket we will win and there is no doubt that our captain is the best man in the game. hope the best side wins.

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2015, 5:36 GMT

    Australia has more chances than India as they are well equipped team as they have more match winners than India. No wonder so much sentiments coming from India either its media, fans, commentators as everyone talking about India 7 consecutive wins in this world cup but except south africa no team was good enough. India were lucky to be in in that group. Apart from semi-final yesterday and that game between NZ and Ausralia this world cup is so boring and predictable. India need to realize that its not about the talks, India is far more looking over-confident unlike Australia who knows that's its all about on the field...

  • manju on March 25, 2015, 5:06 GMT

    Let Faulkner, Jhonson and Aussies team concentrate on sledging, Team India will concentrate on winning this match and getting in to the finale.

  • Vinod on March 25, 2015, 5:02 GMT

    Sledging which is challenging an opponent's cricketing ability&purely cricketing ability on the field as opposed to usage of certain commplace words, certain bodyparts, or certain acts IMHO is ok. Its when it includes abuse or gets 2personal is when I wouldn't want my children to play the game the way it is.There is a popular perception -my 5c worth amongst younger gen of indian cricketers that not to sledge is seen as taking a backward step or a sign of giving in. They just have to look & people like Rahul, Sachin, VVS, Anil, Srinath, Kapil(even though these were quicks, Kapil supporting a limping Richard hadlee in banglore test of 1988 comes to mind) for role models, these august gentlemen played it tough but fair, with an intensity, hope on Thursday the indian team is remembered for playing in exemplary spirit, hoping for an awesum match with display of real skills

  • richard on March 25, 2015, 4:02 GMT

    Sledging never works, did not work for Kohli and Yadav in the tests, did not work for Wahab with Watson hitting the winning runs, when will these players grow up.

  • Rajesh on March 25, 2015, 3:43 GMT

    Dhoni knows how to win world cup. Honestly speaking, tremendous effort has been put up each and every individuals played all over the world. But India, did it further more. since India been away from home nearly 4 months and they are in semi-final now. Go India. Go. Its very difficult for any team, to stop India winning the 2015 world cup.

  • N. on March 25, 2015, 3:25 GMT

    Faulkner and Johnson---please see the NZ-SA semifinal several times, to learn how to play a great match, and win on merits, yet completely avoiding sledging--and maintaining dignity and sportsmanship. If you plan to resort to sledging , you are showing and owning up your own weakness--you should not require that sledging support to win if you are good enough in your game. When will you grow up?

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