Spin or seam? India confident of passing Sydney test


Sydney: India will go into Thursday’s World Cup semi-final against Australia in Sydney confident of success irrespective of whether the wicket took turn or assisted fast bowlers, opener Rohit Sharma said.

The wear and tear at the end of a long season was evident when the covers were removed at the Sydney Cricket ground on Wednesday, revealing a dry, brown pitch that would gladden India more than their rivals.

South African spinners Imran Tahir and JP Duminy shared seven wickets to bowl out Sri Lanka for 133 in the quarter-final at the SCG last week, setting up a nine-wicket win for the Proteas.

But the bat dominated the ball in previous World Cup games at the venue, with Australia piling up 376 for nine against Sri Lanka and South Africa smashing 408 for five off the West Indies’ attack.

Australian coach Darren Lehmann predicted a high-scoring game, but Sharma said India were not sweating over the nature of the wicket.

“It does not worry us what sort of wicket we get because we are confident of doing well on any surface,” said Sharma, who scored a century in the quarter-final against Bangladesh in Melbourne.

“We have taken 70 wickets in seven matches, bowled out the opposition every time, so we know what we need to do.

“Our seamers have done well and so have the spinners. We are ready for anything that we get.”

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men have confounded critics by recovering from a winless bilateral tour of Australia before the World Cup to brush aside all-comers in the tournament.

Starting with two wins against Pakistan and South Africa, India won all six group matches to top Pool B and then downed spirited Bangladesh by 109 runs in the quarter-finals.

Besides bowling out their rivals in all games, India have piled up 300-plus scores every time they have batted first.

India have beaten Australia just once in 35 years in a one-day international at the Sydney Cricket Ground and the hosts have won all six semi-finals they have contested since the inaugural event in 1975.

But Sharma, who hit a record one-day score of 264 against Sri Lanka last year, said the past will have no bearing on Thursday’s result and insisted Australia were not unbeatable.

“Of course we can win, no question about it,” he said. “Australia is a good batting side but they struggled against good quality bowling when they played New Zealand or Pakistan.

“They have also bowled well, but then we have batted well too.”

Australia were shot out for 151 by New Zealand in Auckland and it was only a six-wicket haul by Mitchell Starc that saw the Black Caps lose nine wickets before surpassing the modest target.

Pakistan’s left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz had the Australian batsmen hopping with short-pitched deliveries in the quarter-final in Adelaide before the hosts won by six wickets.

Sharma, who had heated on-field exchanges with David Warner during the preceding tri-series, said he expected a fiery contest between two strong rivals.

“Look a bit of sledging is okay as long as boundaries are not crossed,” he said. “The Indian team will not cross the line, but we will not back down either.” AFP