The Sydney Morning Herald
Australia will fly from Sri Lanka to India facing arguably the most daunting challenge of the cricket World Cup: beating India in a knock-out quarter-final on its own turf.
India’s stuttering victory over the West Indies overnight gave it a second-placed finish in group B, ensuring it would be drawn against a fellow tournament heavyweight in the quarter-finals at Ahmedbad.
The day-night match will be played on Thursday at Ahmedabad’s Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium.
While Australia will be going into the match on the back of its historic loss to Pakistan – historic because it ended its record unbeaten streak at the tournament at 34 – India’s form is not entirely robust. It lost 9-29 against South Africa to squander a superb start, while its lower-order batting was similarly brittle against the West Indies, losing 7-50.
If Australia, the underdog despite winning the past three World Cups, does beat India it will be arguably on the easier side of the draw and will face either Pakistan or the West Indies for a berth in the final.
In the other quarter-finals, Sri Lanka will host England in Colombo on Saturday while the other two matches will be held in the neutral location of Dhaka in Bangladesh: Pakistan and the West Indies on Wednesday and then New Zealand and South Africa on Friday.
After the four-wicket loss to Pakistan on Saturday night Australia captain Ricky Ponting said it was crucial that the team learn from its blunders and bounce back immediately.
“I don’t think the loss will hurt us at all. I know for a fact the guys haven’t been thinking about the winning streak at all, because it hasn’t been mentioned around our group or our change-rooms or meetings or anything.
“I think the fact that we’ve played a good Pakistan team and we’ve come up short will get all the guys thinking just exactly what they need to be thinking about and the way they need to play to win World Cup games,” Ponting said.
“We found ourselves in some tough situations [against Pakistan] and we weren’t good enough to get out of them. We have to learn from that, and we have to learn from that quickly, because if we play India in Ahmedabad then you can guarantee there’s going to be the same situations are going to pop up again, and we’ll have to handle them a whole lot better than we did [against Pakistan].”
The Australian squad is due to arrive in Ahmedabad just before midnight Australian-time.
Wed 23 Mar: Pakistan v West Indies at Dhaka, Bangladesh (match C)
Thu 24 Mar: India v Australia at Ahmedabad, India (match E)
Fri 25 Mar: New Zealand v South Africa at Dhaka, Bangladesh (match F)
Sat 26 Mar: Sri Lanka v England at Colombo, Sri Lanka (match D)
Tue 29 Mar: Winner D v Winner F at Colombo, Sri Lanka
Wed 30 Mar: Winner C v Winner E at Mohali, India
Sat 02 Apr: at Mumbai, India.
The Sydney Morning Herald