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Indian team must now buckle down and focus on how to beat a resurgent Australia at The Oval
Indian team must now buckle down and focus on how to beat a resurgent Australia at The Oval

Time to put on the gloves: What India must do to beat Australia

  • Mohammed Shami has been India’s main strike bowler, after Jasprit Bumrah, over the past year
  • Mint tells you what to look out for in Game 14 of the World Cup

After the drama over a paramilitary insignia on MS Dhoni’s wicket-keeping gloves, which the ICC has disallowed, the Indian team must now buckle down and focus on how to beat a resurgent Australia at The Oval on Sunday.

Mint tells you what to look out for in Game 14 of the World Cup.

Bhuvi or Shami?

Mohammed Shami has been India’s main strike bowler, after Jasprit Bumrah, over the past year. But India went with Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the first game against South Africa, figuring his swing would be handy in Southampton. He maintained pressure by bowling economically, but could not take wickets with the new ball like Bumrah did on a helpful wicket. Shami has more pace, hits the seam unerringly, and can use the bounce on the Oval wicket. He could be a more potent new ball partner for Bumrah.

Make Warner and Smith drive

Opener David Warner is vital for Australia. He likes to hang back on the crease and punch through off-side. The front foot off-drive isn’t his strongest suit, so the bowlers should draw him forward, while occasionally bowling hard into his body to push him back.

Warner’s ball-tampering mate, former captain Steve Smith, is the anchor in the middle order who turned the game around against the West Indies. Smith likes to move crab-like across the wicket to work the ball to the on side. So he too is vulnerable when drawn into an off-drive, provided the ball is not a half-volley.

Bounce out Maxwell

Glenn Maxwell is a dangerous power-hitter in the middle order who can take the game away quickly. He’s a good player of spin, so he can put the Indian leg-spin duo under pressure. Maxwell has often succumbed to a well-directed fast bouncer, like he did against the West Indies. Skipper Virat Kohli would do well to bring on Bumrah and Shami for their second spells when Maxwell arrives at the crease, so that they can attack him before he settles.

Respect Starc, target Stoinis

West Indian Andre Russell could probably have won the game against Australia if he had just defended Mitchell Starc’s ninth over instead of going for big hits and miscuing a catch to Maxwell. Starc’s five wickets pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for Australia.

He got reverse swing with the old ball, and also got batsmen out with sharp bouncers. When a bowler’s on fire, it’s best to be prudent and target someone else. Marcus Stoinis’s medium pace in the middle overs is the weak link for Australia. Leg-spinner Adam Zampa can also be put under pressure, although he can bite back with wicket-taking balls.

The Oval wicket

It was a good toss to lose for India in Southampton as Bumrah could make the ball talk on a fresh, grassy wicket, while South Africa’s dangerous Kagiso Rabada was denied that opportunity. It will therefore be tempting for India to opt for bowling first if they win the toss against Australia. But The Oval has already had two games, and it could be a tired pitch. Bangladesh defended a score of 330 against South Africa, and their spinners almost pulled off a win against New Zealand with only 244 runs to play with.

So batting first might be an advantage, but it’s a tough call for Kohli, because it will be a challenge for India’s openers to negotiate Starc and Pat Cummins in the morning.

Sumit Chakraberty is the author of 2019 Cricket World Cup Thinking Cap.


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