You would have to say that the intensity in the knockout stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 went to a new level. This is what you would expect in a World Cup, and it was great to watch the players take on the pressure. For Australia, they hadn’t really been tested in the last couple of matches before the quarter-final. Pakistan was able to put them under a certain amount of pressure, but Australia came through in the end. So, once again they will have to take their intensity to a new level against India. It is tricky because you just can’t turn this on, it doesn’t have a switch. Only now the subject I spoke about at the start of the tournament around performing under pressure as hosts of the tournament.
For Australia to win on home soil would be huge and probably life-changing for all players as this is something we have never experienced as a country before. Australia’s experienced men play a huge part in preparation for these big matches, just how they carry themselves leading in. Still, I believe someone in the top three holds the power of success for their team if they are going to continue to Sunday’s final. Aaron Finch started with a bang but he has been pretty quiet recently, David Warner is a big game player just, maybe, he might be the difference but this is a massive stage. Steven Smith has been in amazing form all summer, it’s had to imagine him missing out. These boys hold the key.
Mitchell Starc is not only a good bloke but he is a game breaker and just maybe with the ball he will have some impact. Another key to Australia has been their fielding and it’s a credit to Mike Young and Greg Blewett getting it done. Come this Thursday, India will have been in Australia for 126 days on tour. An amazing period where they haven’t been too bad at all. Yes, they lost the Test series 2-0, but if you think back to the Adelaide Test, it could have gone either way. Then during the ODI series, they tried a few different combinations here and there. But really, for them to experience the Australia conditions was so valuable before such a huge tournament.
Of course, a few of their players are going to be sick of the roundabout plane, hotel, train, hotel, play. This is something you get used to, but it can wear you down mentally. It’s really a credit to Duncan Fletcher and MS Dhoni just on how they have got their players up and are playing with a real confidence and consistency. As far as the game goes, it will be the same for India – the top three hold the magic for success. In all previous World Cup winners, the platform is where it is at and this will be no different. India’s bowling unit is bowling with a lot of confidence in their own ability. As usual Suresh Raina, hussles up this fielding unit and makes them field above standard which is another good component about this outfit.
Two hurdles to go for these teams now, they looked fantastic but only one team can advance through to the final. Australia and India at the SCG on Thursday will be a huge game as they have played against each other a lot this summer. These teams know each other like the back of your hand, and between the summer of cricket and the IPL tournament, all these player have experienced each other so much recently.