Australia v India, World Cup 2015, 2nd semi-final, Sydney March 25, 2015

Spinners will play key role in Sydney - Shastri

ESPNcricinfo staff

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'Will treat Australia as just another opposition' - Shastri

India's team director Ravi Shastri believes the spinners will have a key role to play in Thursday's semi-final against hosts Australia at the SCG. India's spin-duo of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have been crucial in suffocating the opposition's flow of runs during the middle overs this World Cup, and Shastri backed his slow bowlers to once again rise to the occasion.

"It's very important that they bowl well," Shastri told ESPNcricinfo. "They've been key to our success with wickets in the middle overs, and it gives the captain lot of options. There's a great variety and balance in the attack. I'm sure spin will play an important role tomorrow."

Shastri also left open the possibility of MS Dhoni even resorting to spinners early in the innings: "You never know. It looks a good pitch for both sides and will likely last the duration of the game. It mainly depends on the weather. If it's hot, the odd ball could just grip and we wouldn't mind that one bit."

Ashwin and Jadeja have collected 21 wickets between them from seven matches at an average of 28.04. Backed by the longer boundaries in Australia, Ashwin, in particular, has tossed the ball up more often than before and made regular use of the offbreak, fetching him 12 scalps at an economy rate of 4.29, the third-best among spinners to have bowled at least 20 overs this World Cup.

However, both Ashwin and Jadeja have enjoyed little success against Australia in the recent past. Glenn Maxwell, in particular, has hit the pair for 124 runs off just 78 balls at a strike-rate of 158.97. But B Arun, India's bowling coach, remained unfazed and had only high praise for all his bowlers, who he felt "complemented" each other really well. He added that India would not alter their game plan to negotiate the threat of Australia's batting power, and rather persist with a tried-and-tested winning formula.

"Ashwin and Jadeja have been brilliant," Arun said. "It's been a great journey for Ashwin, who has rediscovered flight. He has been exceptionally good with his variations. Jadeja had a difficult time coming back from injury, but he too has done well to deliver at right time. The bowlers complement each other, learn from each other and take pride in bowling well as a unit. Tomorrow is just another game and we'll take it as it comes. We're going to go around with whatever has been working for us."

Ravi Shastri: "The bowlers learned a lot in that Test tour of Australia, where they bowled well in patches. They realised how important it is to bowl well as a unit" © Getty Images

India's bowling unit has been one of the surprise packages of the tournament so far, constantly keeping batsmen on the back foot with a consistent line and length. After failing to bowl a team out even once in the tri- series against Australia and England in January, India's attack bounced back strongly and has now snared 70 wickets from seven matches - the only team in the tournament to bundle out all their opponents.

However, both Shastri and Arun weren't surprised by the sudden turnaround from their bowlers.

"Most of these bowlers were bowling well in patches in the Tests," Arun explained. "The tri-series was a great experience and the bowlers did well. We analysed certain areas where they bowled well and areas where they went for runs. When they understood the best lengths to bowl on, they worked hard at doing that.

"Sometimes, they were bowling a little too short, or bowling up to be driven. The lengths back home in India and in Australia vary a little bit, so they needed a little time to get used to it. Once they got it, they've been getting it right consistently for the last seven games."

Shastri felt the bowlers had all been both "brilliant" and adequately tested over the last month.

"Their consistency is what has most impressed me," he said. "They learned a lot in that Test tour of Australia, where they bowled well in patches. They realised how important it is to bowl well as a unit. They've done that from game one in this World Cup and been brilliant in all seven games.

"When you play seven games, you would like to believe that you've been tested by one team or another. When you get guys like Gayle smacking you all over the park, you're bound to be tested. Australia will be no different. They are just another opposition, like how we've treated all the opposition. It doesn't make a difference to us. It's a semi-final."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mohammad on March 28, 2015, 7:27 GMT

    indian fans were soo happy when they bowled out SA and kept on repeating it again and again. The only reason they got all wkts was cuz SA was chasing and any team can get all out while chasing. other grp matches for india were so easy. they were never tested

  • Padma on March 27, 2015, 12:51 GMT

    Director usually says 'Give this team 1 year'. India has been a decent ODI team even before director came. It needs director only for test matches. So the director should concentrate on improving the test performance. 10 overs of genuine spin from India in ODI wont change the match as we have seen in the semifinal.

    Reality is that any team chasing 275+ on big Australian grounds against strong bowling and fielding teams like Aus/SA/NZ will find it very tough in a Knock Out match. That is what happened

  • Michael Ponnudurai on March 26, 2015, 17:01 GMT

    Contd: Had he played the role seriously he would have analysed and helped the team on areas it could improve after what happened in the tri series. The fact he chose to ridicule it, no wonder, is one of the causes for India's loss today. Instead he was even chest thumping some time around India's QF game, that India will win the Cup again this year. Pointless arrogance and pride going before a fall

  • Michael Ponnudurai on March 26, 2015, 17:00 GMT

    The India team's so called team Director started ridiculing that playing Tri series was a waste of time when India started winning in the League phase of the World cup, showing scant decency and respect for the FTP which is an internationally agreed program of events by all Test Playing nations. The fact that India did not win one single match of that series and the Test series earlier and the frustration over that could have been behind his statement. Just heard in a News channel debate in India that the team Director had referred to the Tri series as "Mickey Mouse games" when he was queried about what went wrong with India in the Tri series by a commentator in Aus. Now that India have lost in the semi final,will the team Director now call playing the semi final too was waste of time and "mickey mouse game?"

  • Dummy4 on March 26, 2015, 13:40 GMT

    I guess you've read it wrong Ravi Shasthri..

  • Dummy4 on March 26, 2015, 12:15 GMT

    Ravi Shastri has been totally off the mark as far as the role of spinners would play out at the second semi-final at Sydney between Australia and India today. You seem to have lost touch with the game. I thought our pacers especially Umesh Yadav bowled superbly, to come back into the match. At one time, it looked as though Australia would end up with a score of around 380. The Indians crumbled like nine pins. Maybe they were not really tested till today. Perhaps a defeat in the group matches would have been the bitter medicine they really needed. Seven wins on the trot were too good to be true.

  • Mocking Bird on March 26, 2015, 12:02 GMT

    lol after looking at comments of Indian fan I feel really sorry for them .... India does have talent but they get under pressure quickly as they rely on kohli way too much which brings extra pressure on him and team when he gets out .....india was not even trying to win today's game which was really really disappointing .... but in the end better team won the match ....

  • Dummy4 on March 26, 2015, 11:44 GMT

    Sorry spin played no part in the game.

  • Baskar on March 26, 2015, 10:10 GMT

    Shastri - thank you for your insights. time to get out of the kitchen and in the comm box. lets get a real coach who can crack the whip on the prima dona batsmen to deliver when it counts.

  • Dummy on March 26, 2015, 4:08 GMT

    @Westhil...indian bowling is weak!!!!! Have you even seen any worldcup matches? Only Indian bowlers manage to all out each and every team in this worldcup including South Africa...

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