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September 26, 2012
Match factsSeptember 28, 2012
An early grand final, Michael Hussey called this match. A loss won't end the tournament for either side but in a difficult Super Eights group also featuring South Africa and Pakistan, Australia and India are both desperate to begin with a victory. Both teams enter the match with a solid if not spectacular form-line behind them. India accounted for a plucky Afghanistan and then annihilated a lacklustre England in the group stages, while Australia thrashed Ireland and then did enough against a strong West Indies side to be ahead on Duckworth-Lewis when the rain came halfway through their hefty chase.
Australia have had a settled line-up so far in this tournament and that is unlikely to change now. Shane Watson in particular has been outstanding, both with the ball and at the top of the batting order, and has been Man of the Match in both games so far. India's team selections are much less obvious, especially after Virender Sehwag was left out of their second match. Zaheer Khan and R Ashwin also didn't play against England and finding someone to squeeze out of the side after their 90-run win won't be easy. Harbhajan Singh, who didn't play the first game, seems to have cemented his spot with four wickets against England.
The presence of Harbhajan will add an extra dimension to the match. These are teams with a history of fiery clashes, and Harbhajan has often been part of that. However, in recent battles between India and Australia the tensions have faded considerably. Australia's captain George Bailey still expects some verbal stoushes in the heat of a World Twenty20 contest, especially with Harbhajan back and Australia's mouthy opener David Warner unlikely to keep quiet. "We have players who probably engage in some of that and players who don't," Bailey told reporters on Thursday. "You'll find that most of those guys who like to verbal, they instigate it. That's the way they get their juices flowing. It gets them switched on."
Just as long as neither side allows such sideshows to distract them from the main game.
Form guide(completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for
Last time these two teams met in a World T20 match, in Bridgetown in May 2010, David Warner was Man of the Match for his 72 from 42 balls. He hasn't made that many in a T20 international since, but he has consistently made contributions in recent times: in his past six innings he has scored 58, 22, 31, 59, 26 and 28. A Warner whirlwind can't be far away.
Harbhajan Singh has tormented Australia for nearly 15 years, though his best against them has come in Test cricket; in limited-overs matches he hasn't had the same impact. But after gaining confidence with four wickets against England at the same venue, Harbhajan will be full of self-belief and could be a handful for Australia's batsmen.
Australia are expected to name an unchanged side after using the same XI for their victories over Ireland and West Indies in the group stage. That would mean still no place for David Hussey, the leading run scorer in Twenty20 history.
Australia (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Michael Hussey, 4 George Bailey (capt), 5 Cameron White, 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Daniel Christian, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Brad Hogg.
Mystery still surrounds Virender Sehwag's place in the side after he was left out of the England game. MS Dhoni said on the day before the match that India were likely to play five bowlers, which could in turn mean Sehwag is squeezed out. That would be a monumental decision, although Sehwag has never managed to bring his best against Australia in limited-overs cricket. In ODIs against them he averages 21.68 and in five T20s his average has been 8.20.
India (possible) 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Irfan Pathan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Suresh Raina, 7 MS Dhoni (capt, wk), 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 L Balaji/Ashok Dinda.
Pitch and conditions
India's spinners enjoyed working at the R Premadasa Stadium against England - Harbhajan Singh took four wickets and Piyush Chawla two. There have also been plenty of runs in the pitch for the batsmen.
Stats and trivia
"What we'd like to focus on is if you can keep some wickets in the shed for the back end then India's bowlers have been put under a bit of pressure and you can score quite well."
Australia's captain George Bailey
"They are one of the best because they have done consistently well. Both of them play aggressive cricket and look to score as many runs as possible in the first six overs."
India's captain MS Dhoni knows the importance of restricting Shane Watson and David Warner
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala