India, Australia eye semis berth in virtual quarter-final

large_28224689_e529_1b59_de6f_7d7d10440d57Mohali: India will aim to continue their winning momentum and seal a place in the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 when they take on Australia in a virtual quarter-final clash at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium here on Sunday.

The hosts, who possessed superb form in the run-up to the tournament beating Australia 3-0 in the Twenty20 International series followed by the Asia Cup triumph, have not had it easy in the World T20 so far.

After losing their campaign opener against New Zealand, the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side had to fight hard to ensure wins against Pakistan and Bangladesh and now face a strong Australian side in their final Group 2 match.

On the other hand, Australia, who also got their campaign off to a poor start losing to the Black Caps, but thereafter, came back strongly with wins against Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Hosts India outplayed Australia in January earlier this year in the shortest format of the game, but on Sunday it will be a fresh game for both the sides, considering it to be a world tournament and conditions completely different to what it was Down Under.

India as always will rely on their batting to do the damage in the crucial encounter.

Openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, who have not been among heavy runs, will aim to give India a good start followed by flamboyant Virat Kohli, who failed against Bangladesh but will be raring to unleash his skills against Australia.

The presence of experienced Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, hard-hitting newcomer Hardik Pandya followed by skipper Dhoni make the batting look extremely strong.

Skipper Dhoni does not have to worry much about the in-form bowling unit with young gun Jasprit Bumrah along with experienced Ashish Nehra and spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja delivering in every outing.

Australia too have enough match-winners in their squad to outclass their opponent on any given day and Dhoni’s men should be well aware of their opponent’s threat.

The likes of an in-form Usman Khawaja, Aaron Finch, David Warner, skipper Steve Smith, all-rounder Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, all among runs lately; the side’s batting power looks a threatening one.

Watson, who has already announced his retirement from international cricket post the World T20, will be raring to give his all – both with the bat and ball.

Young leg-spinner Adam Zampa has impressed in the ongoing competition and might come handy if the Mohali wicket offers spin. All-rounder James Faulker and pacers Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Coulter-Nile are expected to fill in the bowling line-up.

The game will be a big game for India who will get a chance to avenge their 2015 World Cup semi-final defeat to Australia and will aim to storm into the last-four.

The squads:

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Pawan Negi, Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya.

Australia: Steven Smith (captain), Ashton Agar, James Faulkner, John Hastings, Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa, Shane Watson, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Marsh, Josh Hazlewood, Aaron Finch, Nathan Coulter-Nile, David Warner.

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