India v Australia
Monday March 28, 1:00am
Sunday night serves as a virtual quarter-final with the winner of this India v Australia clash in Mohali progressing through to the semi-finals, while the loser will be eliminated from the competition.
Since being shocked by New Zealand in the tournament opener India have hit back with consecutive wins over fellow sub-continent sides Pakistan and Bangladesh, although their victory over the latter was fortunate to say the least.
Needing just two to win off three balls with two experienced batsmen at the crease Bangladesh somehow managed to lose three wickets in three balls and hand India a miraculous one-run victory. Earlier no Indian batsman managed to pass 30 as they stuttered their way to a below-par 7/146.
With the ball, spinners Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja and Suresh Raina took a combined 5/51 off nine overs, however the eventual hero was all-rounder Hardik Pandya who defended ten off the last over after his first two cost 20.
Despite an unconvincing campaign India have stuck solid with the same XI throughout the tournament and it would be a surprise if they made any changes for this must-win encounter.
Conversely Australia have chopped and changed their starting XI but may have finally settled on their best side after overturning Pakistan by 21 runs here in Mohali on Friday. Captain Steve Smith found some form with a stunning unbeaten 61 off 43 balls, while Shane Watson had no problems adjusting to his new role further down the order as he belted 44 off just 21 balls to catapult the Aussies to an imposing 4/193.
While Pakistan threatened to give the total a shake on a few occasions they were eventually stopped in their tracks by James Faulkner (5/27) who became the first Australian to take a five-wicket haul in T20Is. Josh Hazlewood also made an encouraging return to the side, picking up 1/26, while leg-spinner Adam Zampa continued his impressive form with the key wickets of Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi.
Australia’s tournament has followed a similar pattern to their opponents with a first up loss to New Zealand followed by wins over the other two sides in the group, however only one side can progress any further.
Punjab Cricket Association Stadium
The Punjab Cricket Association Stadium pitch has been one of the quicker surfaces in the competition, with the ball coming onto the bat nicely throughout the match. Noticeably in both games played here bowling at the death has been difficult with the side batting first smashing 45 and 58 off the final four overs.
- India have won four out of their last five T20Is at home.
- India have won their last five T20Is against Australia.
- Virat Kohli has scored seven half-centuries in his last eight limited-overs innings against Australia.
- Australia have won four out of their last five T20I in Asia.
- Australia have won six out of seven limited overs fixtures at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.
With a place in the finals on the line it is tournament hosts India who are favourites for this one, with Australia considered outsiders to reach their fourth World T20 semi-final.
Given India’s recent favourable record against Australia and at home it is hard to oppose them here, although the one thing in the Aussies’ favour could be the conditions which are faster than a typical Indian wicket and indeed the underdogs have built up an impressive record of late in the sub-continent and at this ground in particular. Therefore I’ll be leaving the match odds alone and looking further afield for a more robust betting angle.
The indomitable Virat Kohli is having quite a time of it in this format of the game. Since the start of the year he has scored 454 runs in T20Is at an incredible average of 90.80 and impressive strike-rate of 129.71.
Kohli also seems to have a particular liking for Australia against whom he averages 53.16 in T20Is and has scored seven half-centuries in his last eight innings across all formats. Furthermore Kohli has top-scored in three of his last seven T20Is overall and with an affinity for the big occasion, I’m happy to back him to top-score again here.