In-form favourites face off
Match FactsFriday, May 7, Bridgetown
Start time 0930 (1330 GMT)
The Big Picture
If you trust the bookmakers - and in the unpredictable Twenty20 format that is quite a risk - Australia and India are the two favourites to win the tournament. They both came through the pool stage undefeated, along with West Indies and New Zealand, and for whoever loses this game the campaign is far from over. But it will provide a very interesting form guide, considering the final will be played at this venue.
India have had a week off following their double-header in St Lucia, while Australia have been given a taste of the quicker conditions in Barbados during their victory over Bangladesh on Wednesday. It could give Michael Clarke's men a slight advantage and their pace trio of Dirk Nannes, Shaun Tait and either Mitchell Johnson or Ryan Harris should be fired up against the stronger opposition.
They find themselves facing an outfit that includes Suresh Raina, who has just become one of four century-makers in Twenty20 internationals, and men like Harbhajan Singh and Gautam Gambhir, who often seem to lift against Australia. Whichever team escapes with the points from this game will take a big confidence boost, while the loser will hope to turn things around against Sri Lanka and West Indies to find a way through to the semi-finals.
Form guide (most recent first)Australia: WWTWW
Watch out for...
It was Dirk Nannes who did the most damage against Bangladesh, but Shaun Tait is an equally frightening prospect on a Kensington Oval pitch with some speed. He cracked the 160kph barrier during the Australian summer and is always a threat in the short, sharp spells favoured by Twenty20 captains.
Yuvraj Singh has made useful contributions in both matches so far, without on either occasion being the star. His power is without question and he enjoys playing Australia: in his two Twenty20s against them he has made a combined 101 runs from 55 balls.
After two comfortable victories, don't expect Australia to make any changes unless Mitchell Johnson is available. Johnson missed the Bangladesh game with an infection in his right elbow and should replace Ryan Harris if he comes in. "He was certainly improving this morning," Michael Clarke said after Wednesday's game. "Mitch is a huge part of our team with both bat and ball, hopefully he is fit."
Australia (probable) 1 David Warner, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Michael Clarke (capt), 4 Brad Haddin (wk), 5 David Hussey, 6 Cameron White, 7 Michael Hussey, 8 Steven Smith, 9 Mitchell Johnson/Ryan Harris, 10 Dirk Nannes, 11 Shaun Tait.
The opener Gambhir says he is feeling fit and strong after recovering from a groin injury and is in line to replace Dinesh Karthik. Praveen Kumar has flown home and should be replaced by Zaheer Khan. With the pitch likely to assist fast bowling, Vinay Kumar might also get an opportunity at the expense of Piyush Chawla.
India (possible) 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 M Vijay, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (capt, wk), 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Piyush Chawla/ Vinay Kumar, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Ashish Nehra.
Pitch and conditionsThe Barbados pitch has been more fun for the fast men and harder work for the batsmen. In the opening four games there the scores have been modest: 141, 114, 139, 80, 147, 151, 170 and 157. The forecast is for scattered showers and a top of 33C.
Stats and trivia
- The teams have met in three Twenty20 internationals for two wins to India and one to Australia
- They last faced each other in February 2008, and such has been the change in Australia's Twenty20 team since then that only Michael Clarke and the Hussey brothers remain from that side
- At the close of the pool stage, Dirk Nannes was the leading wicket taker in the tournament, with seven at 8.42
Quotes"These conditions are really going to help our fast bowlers. There was a lot of pace and bounce in that wicket."
The Barbados pitch excites Michael Clarke
"There is not much difference between the three sides as in T20 every team looks to attack. Everybody would like to win the title. So the competition is going to be stiff."
Gautam Gambhir© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.