cricket20 :: Buoyant India seek to upset Aussie applecart
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Buoyant India seek to upset Aussie applecart


With their bowlers and batsmen hitting form in the nick of time, a buoyant India will seek to carry the momentum as they go into the high-voltage semi-final of the Twenty20 World Cup against Australia on Saturday.

For a team that came to the competition with the experience of just one international game in this 'slam bang' format, the Indians have exceeded expectations by finishing on top of Group E.

They have shown that they usually raise their game by a few notches in big matches and on big occasions.

The presence of players like Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey and Brad Hodge in the batting department and Brett Lee, Stuart Clarke, Nathan Bracken, Mitchell Johnson and Brad Hogg in the bowling line-up give the Aussies an awesome look.

They are also backed by an amazing track record over the years in major competitions.

And yet, yet the very nature of the Twenty20 format makes even a side like Australia look vulnerable.

The fact that they come to Kingsmead having already lost to Zimbabwe and Pakistan underlines the fickle nature of this brand of cricket and it should be a good reason for the Indians to believe that they can still upset the applecart of their strong opponents.

India had a sensational start to the championship when they scored a heart-stopping win over Pakistan via a 'bowl out.'

The 10-run loss to New Zealand put them in a do-or-die situation for their last two Super Eights engagements against England and South Africa, but India have gone from strength to strength thereafter.

They beat England by 18 runs and eliminated the hosts from their own party by a 37-run margin to book a spot in the last four.

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have been giving useful starts for the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni to display their customary fireworks at the death.

And Rohit Sharma's invaluable half-century against South Africa in his first outing at the crease highlights the emergence of the young batsmen in the side.

As much can be said about India's seamers RP Singh, Irfan Pathan and S Sreesanth, who have stuck to their task wonderfully and have relished bowling at Kingsmead.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has been mean and crafty and has made a bold statement of intent bowling at the death and enjoying his tussle with the batsmen.

Add to that India's new found resolve and athletic brilliance in the field and Dhoni's inspiring and hands-on captaincy, and you have a picture of a brave and young Indian side brimming with self-belief and confidence, daring and aggressive enough to take on the best.

Australia, on the other hand, started with a shock defeat against Zimbabwe in the first round before they regrouped to beat England and Bangladesh.

However, they lost their second game of the competition to Pakistan in the Super Eight before routing Sri Lanka in a must-win game to end up as second qualifiers from Group F.

The Indians have thrived on the conditions at Kingsmead and all their victories in this competition have come at this venue.

On the other hand, Australia had to play in Johannesburg and Cape Town and the semi-final will be their first game in Durban. India's knowledge of the conditions will come handy.

"We definitely know the wicket and the conditions better," Dhoni said. "We know how the pitch behaves when there is grass on it, so we won't really panic. To that extent, we do have an advantage, yet everything still depends on how you play on that day."

Then again, being a champion side, and unperturbed by the fact that their captain Ricky Ponting has been ruled out, Australia is still a strong all-round side with plenty of class, experience and depth.

They have shown that they usually raise their game by a few notches in big matches and on big occasions.

The presence of players like Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey and Brad Hodge in the batting department and Brett Lee, Stuart Clarke, Nathan Bracken, Mitchell Johnson and Brad Hogg in the bowling line-up give the Aussies an awesome look.

They are also backed by an amazing track record over the years in major competitions.

And yet, yet the very nature of the Twenty20 format makes even a side like Australia look vulnerable.

The fact that they come to Kingsmead having already lost to Zimbabwe and Pakistan underlines the fickle nature of this brand of cricket and it should be a good reason for the Indians to believe that they can still upset the applecart of their strong opponents.

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