WC Quarterfinal Preview: India vs Australia

When India was playing the West Indies in the Group stages, we knew that they were going to play one of 2007's finalists based on the result.

Four years ago, we would've picked the Lankans as our preferred opponent without thinking twice. When I say 'we', I am obviously referring to Indian supporters, because neutrals would probably enjoy an India-Australia match more. Such has been Australia's decline, that we'd rather play them than Sri Lanka now, and our success against them at home is something else you can throw into the mix. Also, I'm sick of Sri Lanka, because of how much we played them last year. Then there's the big one - the potential India-Pakistan semifinal - but that's looking a little too far ahead. So I won't talk about the India-South Africa final, or the Twenty20 World Cup in 2020.

So much to look forward to... Ponting's imminent rubbishness, Harbhajan vs all Aussies, Sehwag and Sachin, Navjot Singh Sidhu vs Saurav Ganguly, Steve Smith being stuffed into a locker, and much more.

The Captains: Ponting and Dhoni
Now we can expect (or at least hope for) a turning pitch in Ahmedabad, perhaps similar to the one where India beat Australia in the warm-up game. If that is the case, Chawla (incidentally the hero of that game) could return to side at the expense of Yusuf and Raina, because Sehwag will be back too. If just one batsman has to be dropped (which I don't think should happen) then it might be Yusuf, because he has been, if I may say so in Latin, a 'Failurus Colossus', scoring 74 runs in 6 innings. Gambhir drops back down to #3 and the #4 problem resurfaces, when there shouldn't be one. It's simple enough - don't mess around with Kohli. Bat him at #4 or #5, but no lower. Failurus Colossus does NOT need to bat higher, while Raina is all thumbs-up with wherever he bats. And my suggestion for the batting Powerplay? Take it as early as possible if Sehwag sticks around.

On a slow track, Lee will be the biggest threat because he has enough variations, and Johnson has a decent slower one as well, but the top order should have no problems taking them and Tait on. Krezja is a buffet bowler. Steve Smith crossed the "step-forward-if-you-can-bowl" line by the thinnest of margins.

As for the Aussie batting: Watson and Haddin are their leading scorers, with 265 and 279 runs respectively, and 3 fifties each. Clarke has 225 runs but has only been dismissed twice. Hussey remains the pivotal piece of their middle order. White was given a tour of the batting crease by someone else, and he took pictures to remember how it looks. Steve Smith... just look at the info on his bowling above and apply it to his batting.

My picks: Sehwag and Sachin, Gambhir, Harbhajan, Ponting, Clarke, Johnson.

Ideal line-ups (for me):

India: Sehwag, Sachin, Gambhir, Kohli, Yuvraj, Dhoni (c)(wk), Harbhajan, Ashwin, Chawla, Zaheer, Munaf.

Australia: Haddin (wk), Watson, Ponting (c), Clarke, White, Hussey, Smith, Johnson, Krezja, Lee, Tait.

Official-looking prediction: India to edge a low-scoring game. Spin will rule. At least two people will cry on the field.