India MS Dhoni Suresh Raina Mohammed Shami Shikhar Dhawan Ajinkya Rahane ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
India players have been a much happier bunch after leaving Australia behind themReuters

The final before the final, or so it is being painted – say what you might, India vs Australia, the ICC Cricket World Cup semifinal, is going to be a humdinger of a contest at the SCG, an SCG which is going to be a sea of blue more than gold.

So many times and for so long did Australia and India play each other in the recent past that watching the two teams clash in the early part of the World Cup would have been a bit of a bore. After all playing four Test matches and then a tri-series, also involving England, over two and a half months can weary even the most ardent of supporters, so imagine what the players might have felt like.

Undoubtedly, the India players would have been the happier to not have to play Australia in Australia time and again, and their happiness at playing other opponents have been emphasised by the results. Since bidding goodbye to playing Australia in Australia, India have won seven out of seven matches, all of them at this World Cup, and most of them pretty convincingly too.

The first six wins ensured they would finish top of their group, with the seventh giving them a quarterfinal victory over Bangladesh and a semifinal match against Australia.

So, this is an entirely different India side that Australia will face; the faces and names might be similar, but the confidence and ability to play under the same conditions will be completely different.

"What happened was in the past," said Rohit Sharma. "We never wanted to carry it [the disappointments in the Test and tri-series] into the World Cup. We always spoke about this.

"We know how important the World Cup is, and to come out and play some good cricket. So, now it is just the matter of two more hurdles. "

While New Zealand are as big a hurdle as they come in ODI cricket at the moment, one suspects this particular Australia hurdle is just that little bit more difficult – one, because the match will be played at the SCG, irrespective of the extra support India will get, and two, because India could not get the better of Australia even once in the summer before the start of the World Cup.

However, the one big thing for India at the SCG will be the support. There is little doubt now that the Indian fans will outnumber the ones wearing gold at the SCG, and as South Africa, in particular, found out at the MCG in the Pool stages, that can be a daunting prospect.

England have previously wondered "what on earth is going on" at the majority Indian support when playing India in the UK, and Australia might find it a little difficult to adjust to them being booed and taunted in a place they call home.

"That's a no-brainer. I think we know they will," said skipper Michael Clarke when asked if he feels India will have more support than Australia. "But that's fine.

"We have played in India a number of times and they out-support us there as well. It's a fantastic feeling to have the opportunity to play in your own backyard and to play in Australia."

The other major aspect will, of course, be the pitch. There were reports suggesting Australia might prepare a green pitch to suit their fast bowlers , which, with the way the Indian bowlers are bowling might not have been that bad a thing at all, but the latest signs point towards a flat and grassless pitch, which might give some turn for the spinners eventually.

The toss, as it always is in a major game, will be crucial and undoubtedly both teams will want to bat first, but with a sporting wicket expected Clarke thinks no definite advantage will be there for the team that does win the toss.

"Whatever you do first, you have to do it well," added Clarke. "I don't think it [the toss] matters too much in a one-day game. "Sometimes wickets in Australia can be better to bat on second, because you get a little bit of dew, and the wicket and the outfield quicken up.

"Then there is the other side that people always talk about -- runs on the board in big games. We are going to do both at some stage, we just have to do them well.

"I think the SCG in general is a really good wicket for both batting and bowling."

Where to Watch Live

Get the Live Blog of India vs Australia Semifinal HERE

The semifinal that is India vs Australia is scheduled for a 2.30 pm local time (9 am IST, 3.30 am GMT, 10.30 pm ET) start with live coverage in India on DD National, Star Sports 1, Star Sports 3, Star Sports HD1, Star Sports HD3, Suvarna Plus, Jalsha Movies and Asianet Movies. If you have been forced to go to work and need to watch the match online, go to or Star Sports Live Pro.

Viewers in Australia will be able to catch their team in the semifinal live not just at the SCG, but also on Channel 9 and Fox Sports. The live stream options are on Foxtel, Cricket Australia Live or via mobile by downloading the Cricket Australia Live App.

Audience staying up with a big cup of coffee (or beer) in the UK can catch all the action live on Sky Sports 2 or by live streaming on Watch Sky Sports and Sky Go. Viewers in the US can catch all the action live on ESPN, while the game can also be live streamed on ESPN Cricket.

Viewers in the Middle East can watch the action live on OSN or via live stream on OSN Play, while New Zealand audience can watch all the match action live on Sky Sport or live online on Sky Go NZ. Audience watching the match in Europe can catch the action live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player.

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