An India-Australia cricket match normally is preceded by lots of expectations and hype. However, as India get ready to face Australia in the World Cup 2019 match on Sunday at the Kennington Oval, the talking point is something else – MS Dhoni’s dagger insignia on his wicket-keeping gloves. The ICC has refused to allow Dhoni permission to wear the Army insignia on his gloves during World Cup. This has snowballed into a huge controversy of sports, with the sports fraternity in India as well as some politicians backing the former India captain.
What the dispute has done is take away the attention from the real issue at hand – the big challenge of facing Australia. India, as a nation, is very passionate about cricket and its superstar cricketers. And, we all know that Dhoni is at a different level altogether when it comes to his demi-god status in India. However, coming so close to India’s clash against Australia, Team India run the danger of getting distracted by the whole controversy. Whether the ICC is right or wrong can be debated later. For now, fans, the administrators and the Indian cricketers in particular need to get back at the job on hand.
Team India, despite getting off to a confident start against the struggling South Africans, wouldn’t have it easy against the defending champions. Against West Indies, Australia proved why they remain a dangerous side in big tournaments, recovering from a precarious 79 for 5 to post a 15-run win over the Windies. India don’t have a great record against Australia in the World Cup, and this is something they should be wary of. Australia had hammered them brutally in 1999 as well as in the final of the 2003 World Cup. In the 2015 World Cup semi-final as well, it was Australia who ended India’s impressive campaign.
India’s only victory over Australia in the World Cup in recent times came in the famous 2011 World Cup quarter final at Ahmedabad when Yuvraj Singh’s all-round heroics ended Australia’s legendary unbeaten streak at the World Cup. That game was played at home though and India go into the latest clash against the Aussies having lost the T20 and ODI series in their own backyard just before the IPL. While that counts for little on Sunday, the Australians would believe they hold an edge over the Indians owing to the recent success.
Team India in action against South Africa | AFP
Even as India tasted early success against South Africa in the World Cup, they have a few issues to deal with. The time has now come to worry about Shikhar Dhawan’s form. After faltering in the two practice matches, he was all at sea against the moving ball in the clash against South Africa as well. Apart from his 143 in a losing cause against Australia at Mohali, he hasn’t crossed fifty in his last nine innings. Dhawan has an excellent record in the World Cup as well as the Champions Trophy. However, a few more failures and his consistency will undoubtedly be questioned.
The match will also present a big challenge for Jasprit Bumrah. Unlike other teams, Australia will definitely look to attack him and throw him out of gear. This is exactly what Glenn Maxwell did so well in the series back in India when he was in such supreme form. Bumrah now gets his chance to seek redemption on the biggest of all stages. The spin twins of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav will also be raring to make an impression. It could be an intriguing battle as the likes of David Warner, Steve Smith as well as Big Show Maxwell would look to attack him.
Australia may not be the same team they were a few years ago. However, they have recovered incredibly in the build up to the World Cup, putting behind the sullying ball-tampering controversy behind them. Smith and Warner, two of the culprits of that scandal, seem inspired to seek redemption and their comeback has inspired the team without doubt. They would come out all guns firing against India, which is all the more reason India be need to be at their alert best. There is no place for distraction – gloves with insignia or without. Doesn’t matter.