How will the pitch behave? Will there be pace and bounce or will it be a little slow and suit the spinners a bit more? Those and more will be the questions that India and Australia will ponder on while deciding on their playing XI for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 semifinal at the SCG on Thursday, even if the most likely scenario is no changes at all for either side, barring any late injuries.
Getting the team setup right is essential in a big game and tournament, and India have done that quite well over the course of this World Cup. Having settled on a XI, MS Dhoni has been loath to make any changes barring injuries, and due to that he has received 100 percent performance and commitment from his players.
The bowling has done well and so has the batting, with each department working as a unit to ensure there no doors are left even slightly ajar to allow their opponents in.
Therefore, it is difficult to see India making any changes to their lineup for the semifinal match against Australia, meaning it should be the five bowlers – Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja – the five batsmen – Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina – and the captain -- MS Dhoni – walking onto the field come Thursday.
The only way one of Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Akshar Patel and Ambati Rayudu will get a hit at this World Cup will be via injuries and with no injuries being reported, it does look like another day on the bench for the quartet.
Watching India play the kind of cricket they have played at this World Cup – seven wins out of seven – would have pleased the squad players as well, though, and they will no doubt be hoping for another impeccable performance against the formidable Australia.
While India have stuck to pretty much the same team for this entire World Cup, Australia have not been shy on making changes according to the opponents and conditions, with the return of Josh Hazlewood, the man with more control and guile, for the quarterfinal against Pakistan being a case in point.
Hazlewood did remarkably well on his return to the team, picking up four wicket to help restrict Pakistan to a small total, and that performance should ensure he keeps his place in the team ahead of Pat Cummins.
With Shane Watson showing his worth with the bat again courtesy a battling half-century against Pakistan, Mitchell Marsh will have to warm the benches again, meaning Australia, like India, are also set to go with the same personnel that played in the quarterfinals.
Expected lineups: India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Mohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav.
Australia: Aaron Finch, David Warner, Steven Smith, Michael Clarke (capt), Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin (wk), James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood.