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Match Preview – India vs Australia, ICC Cricket World Cup 2023/24, 5th Match


Match Preview – India vs Australia, ICC Cricket World Cup 2023/24, 5th Match


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“50-over World Cup is the biggest sporting event in cricketing history. So, for me, this is the biggest event that I will be part of.”

You might share this sentiment, expressed by Rohit Sharma on Saturday, but you may not have seen too much evidence just yet that too many others do. Four matches in, we’re yet to see anything like a full house at this World Cup.

This will change on Sunday, in Chennai. You’ll know that a World Cup is going on. The air will crackle with anticipation, but there’ll be a tinge of anxiety too, for this is India’s first match in a home World Cup that they start as favourites. It’s hard to imagine the pressure a team can go through in these situations, and it’ll come as a relief to India’s players when the umpires call “play”, and there’s a ball to focus on, or a batter and a set of stumps at the other end.

It’ll be a stern test right off the bat, because they’re playing Australia, and is there anything as spine-jellifying in sport as the prospect of facing Australia in a cricket World Cup? This Australian team isn’t the Australian team of 1999, 2003 or 2007, and they aren’t a complete team either, lacking most of all depth in the spin department, but you’d be surprised if they didn’t make the semi-finals at the least. India won’t face too many stronger oppositions in this tournament. They aren’t being eased into this at all.

Spin is expected to be hugely influential at Chepauk, and India are better equipped in that regard, on paper, but they only have to go as far back as March, when they lost to Australia at the same venue, to know it won’t always translate into results.

Chepauk, newly renovated, sports a series of murals commemorating the many historic moments it has witnessed. One is particularly interesting, and unusual in a country that usually only celebrates the achievements of its own: Pakistan’s victorious team soaking in a standing ovation while going on a victory lap of Chepauk in 1999. This is a crowd known to appreciate good cricket no matter who plays it, so they’re guaranteed a good time on Sunday, as long as the rain stays away.

Form guide

India LWWWL (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
Australia WLLLL

In the spotlight – Hardik Pandya and Glenn Maxwell

Back after being rested for the ODI series against Australia, Hardik Pandya is perhaps the most important member of India’s line-up. Apart from everything he brings to the table with the bat, he’s a genuine third seamer in white-ball cricket, his presence allowing India to pick an extra seamer or spinner as the conditions dictate. Much of their team-building worries over the last few months have revolved around finding ways to play six bowlers without compromising batting depth; Hardik is the one man who makes it possible.

Picking a squad for Indian conditions with only one frontline spinner is a risk, but for Australia it’s slightly less of a risk because Glenn Maxwell has turned himself into a genuine allrounder in ODIs. It’s a relatively new development – he averaged 130.66 with the ball in 61 ODIs in the 2016-20 period but has taken his wickets at 28.53 since then – and Australia will be glad his improvement has coincided with this World Cup cycle. On a Chennai pitch that’s expected to turn, he may have to bowl a full 10 overs.

Team news

Shubman Gill is recovering from dengue and is a doubtful starter. If he isn’t available, Ishan Kishan is likely to open with Rohit. India will have a choice to make in their middle order, likely between Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav, and another at No. 8, between R Ashwin and Shardul Thakur. Given Chepauk’s recent history and the dry, black-soil pitch that has been rolled out for this game, it’s likely they’ll go in with the third spinner in Ashwin.

India (probable XI): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shubman Gill/Ishan Kishan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer/Suryakumar Yadav, 5 KL Rahul (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Mohammed Siraj

Marcus Stoinis is in a race against time to recover from a hamstring injury, which means Cameron Green is likely to take the main seam-bowling allrounder’s slot. Alex Carey is set to hold on to the keeping gloves ahead of Josh Inglis.

Australia (probable XI): 1 David Warner, 2 Mitchell Marsh, 3 Steven Smith, 4 Marnus Labuschagne, 5 Cameron Green, 6 Alex Carey (wk), 7 Glenn Maxwell, 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins (capt), 10 Josh Hazlewood, 11 Adam Zampa

Pitch and conditions

A straw-coloured, black-soil pitch is likely to induce India to play three spinners. Chepauk tends to offer a fair contest between bat and ball: the last eight first-innings scores in ODIs here have ranged from 227 to 299, with the team batting first going on to win six times.

The weather is likely to be muggy, with a forecast maximum of 33 degrees Celsius. The North-East monsoon could bring scattered showers in the evening.

Stats and trivia

  • The MA Chidambaram Stadium has hosted seven World Cup games. Australia have played three of them and won each time: they beat India by one run in a group-stage thriller and hammered Zimbabwe by 96 runs here in 1987; then, in the quarter-finals of the 1996 edition, they chased down 287 to see off New Zealand.
  • India have played one other World Cup game at Chepauk apart from the 1987 loss to Australia. They beat West Indies by 80 runs here during their run to the title in 2011.
  • India and Australia have met 12 times in ODIs since the end of the 2019 World Cup and won six games each.


“You heard the great man say so many times that you know, until he wins the World Cup, he’s got a bit of unfinished business. I’m sure you know who I’m talking about. So it’s the same for us as well. You want to win the World Cup, It’s the biggest prize that you can have in your career. But again, there’s a way to do it. There’s a procedure that you need to follow. There’s a process to it […] It’s good to be desperate. It’s good to be hungry. But you’ve got to find that balance, right? […] You cannot get way too ahead of yourself because that can lead into something that you don’t really wish for.”
India captain Rohit Sharma throws in a Sachin Tendulkar (or Lionel Messi) reference to highlight what this World Cup means to his team

“I think the most exciting thing about a World Cup is it is a campaign. It does feel like you’re there with 14 other guys and you’re on a journey to try and make the next couple of months as special as it can be. So I love that. There’s no forward planning and you’re not trying to manage different formats now. We’re here for a World Cup and everyone’s fully focused on that. So, I’ve really enjoyed that and the boys have been awesome so far and yeah, it’s my third World Cup and first one as captain. They’re all really special.”
Australia captain Pat Cummins

Karthik Krishnaswamy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo


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