India's quest for glory will face a stern test in formidable Australia, forcing Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri to put their thinking caps on and contemplate a tactical rejig, as one of World Cup's most storied rivalries resumes in London. India was clinical in their six-wicket victory against a depleted South Africa while Australia, who have raised their game in the last couple of months, were professional against Afghanistan and brilliant in their come-from-behind victory against the West Indies. Having struggled in the past year after suspensions of Steve Smith and David Warner, Australia finally seemed to have picked their pieces and are playing exactly like five-time champions ought to. This will certainly be a cause of worry for India, who lost their ODI series at home during the last bilateral encounter and are still in search of a perfect combination both in batting and bowling. In fact, Australia's batting coach Ricky Ponting is apprehending a shift in strategy from the Indians, who have of late rattled them with quality pace bowling.
"Do they maybe go with only the one spinner and use (all-rounder) Kedar Jadhav as a second spinner and play another fast bowler?" Ponting told cricket-com.au recently. "We'll worry about that in the next couple of days and make sure all the boys are prepared," he added. In the last series, the Australians effectively nullified India's spin twins Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal on the flat sub-continental decks, sans Warner and Smith.
Skipper Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja also got a grip of Kedar Jadhav's side-arm off-spin and this will certainly force the captain and coach to explore options. With the presence of the two talismans in the opposition ranks, India may have to tweak their playing XI, keeping the Oval pitch and the overcast conditions in mind. They have already served warning signals with a half-century each in their first two games. Mohammed Shami, who was dropped from the playing XI against South Africa, is likely to make a comeback in the playing XI.
India is expected to enhance their pace bowling attack by possibly playing four pacers and one spinner. Australia, on the other hand, might not make many changes.
India (Playing XI): Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal
Australia (Playing XI): Aaron Finch(c), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey(w), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa
Who will win?
This is an even contest. On paper, India is strong in all departments but Australia holds the edge as they have momentum and confidence having beaten India recently.
Weather and pitch
London received rain during the practice session a couple of days back but on match day, it is expected to be fine.
Australia holds a massive edge over India in World Cups, having an 8-3 advantage. Australia and India had an even head-to-head record till 1987 when both teams won two matches apiece. However, from 1992 till 2003, Australia won five consecutive games and India ended the winning run in 2011. Australia bounced back with a wonderful win in the 2015 semi-final in Sydney.
Stadium and timings
The match will be played at The Kennington Oval and the match will begin at 3:00 PM IST.