ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features
India v Australia, World Cup 2011, Ahmedabad
Mini-battles to light up Motera
There will be several smaller battles to add even greater spark to what is already an enthralling quarter-final clash between India and Australia in Ahmedabad
Nagraj Gollapudi in Ahmedabad
March 23, 2011
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Players/Officials: Michael Clarke | Mitchell Johnson | Brett Lee | Ricky Ponting | Virender Sehwag | Sachin Tendulkar | Shane Watson
Matches: India v Australia at Ahmedabad
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Brett Lee v Sachin Tendulkar
Lee has always enjoyed jousting with Tendulkar. And why not - the Aussie has claimed Tendulkar's wicket nine times in ODIs, a record that he shares with Shaun Pollock and Chaminda Vaas. All modes of dismissal have been witnessed: bowled, caught, lbw, hit wicket. Lee has always smiled at the sight of Tendulkar, and considering this will probably be the last time both men face each other, he will bound in unafraid. The weapons of destruction, as in the past, will remain the same: bowling at maximum pace, Lee gets the ball to swing away, the length always full, and the short-pitched delivery as the surprise element to tempt Tendulkar to go for the uppercut or the pull. If Lee has never compromised on his strengths, Tendulkar has raised his batting to the level that he has desired. On the cusp of scoring his hundredth international century, Tendulkar will rely on the trusted weapons: a good eye, a wide array of shots, and a surfeit of patience and nerve. Considering that Ricky Ponting has bowled Lee in short bursts in this World Cup, and the fact that the endurance levels of both combatants match those of marathon runners, this mini contest is bound to build up to a crescendo in Ahmedabad.
Zaheer Khan v Shane Watson
Zaheer will angle the ball away. He will pitch the ball on a length and move it in. He will bowl an innocuous straighter delivery and cut the ball both ways - all this only to test if Watson is reading his mind. The Australian better be attentive, otherwise Zaheer is certain to overwhelm him with his cunning. These days Zaheer bowls with a sense of calm that makes a batsman uneasy. The look in his eye suggests that he knows exactly where he is going to pitch the ball, what the response will be and how he is going to trap his opponent. And like all good strike bowlers, he wants to snare the victim early. Watson likes width. There is great strength in his muscular frame and if a bowler hits a 'bowling machine length' he is murderous on the drive. But at times he does not get around his front pad quickly enough to avoid being trapped in front of the wicket. Zaheer will test him with different lengths. Australia need Watson to bat through most of the innings and lay a solid platform, and his biggest challenge will be to deny Zaheer the mental edge.
Virender Sehwag v Mitchell Johnson
Johnson believes in the McGrath formula of naming his target before hitting it. This is the second time in less than a year the Australian has riled Sehwag. Last year during the Test series he had Sehwag's measure - twice. Overall in one-dayers, the Australian has dismissed Sehwag four times giving away just 62 runs. Sehwag is coming back from an injury, having missed the previous match due to an inflammation of the knee, but he won't buckle and is bound to take Johnson on his word if he can get past the new-ball pair of Lee and Shaun Tait.
Ricky Ponting v Ricky Ponting
This is a battle with the self. The struggle is within Ponting. Probably it is also the ego - the Indian fast bowlers will pitch it short as soon as the Australian captain walks in. Trust Ponting to go for the pull or the hook. So far this World Cup, Ponting has not made any noise except when talking to the match officials. He says he is trying to spend time at the crease. But he is trying too hard. If he can start enjoying batting at the moment, he might find his way back.
Michael Clarke v the Indian spinners
First the numbers: Clarke has been dismissed only three times by Indian spinners (Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble and Virender Sehwag). He averages 117 and scores at 5.37 runs per over against Indian spinners. Doesn't that mean Clarke dominates the spinners? Yes and no. Clarke is no doubt a good player of spin, but increasingly he has been in two minds facing the Indian slow bowlers. Take Australia's tour of India last year. Then Clarke never spent enough time at the crease to find his feet. Instead he jumped out of the crease too quickly, too early and indecisively. Clarke is usually one of the few good batsmen who uses his feet smartly, but against India last year, he was doing so while simply trying to defend, thereby taking a risk that greatly outweighed the potential reward. Immediately the spinner knew he had him. What he needs to do now to is alternate playing both back and forward and use all of the crease. More than quick feet, it is quick thinking that will keep him safe.
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