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T20 World Cup: Australia v India match preview

A 21-run defeat to Afghanistan has seen Australia move from being almost certain semi-finalists to needing to defeat India in Saint Lucia to try and ensure that they reach the last four at the T20 World Cup.

Having won five matches out of five heading into their match-up with the Afghans in St Vincent, the Baggy Greens seemed to be on a roll, but even a second successive hat-trick from pace ace Pat Cummins was not enough to stop them from sliding to what could be a costly defeat.

Now, even a 2.10 win over 1.72 India at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium may not be enough, with Afghanistan closing their Super 8 campaign with a clash with Bangladesh.

The Afghans play after Australia will have finished, so they will know the size of their task and it could all come down to net run-rate, while India will be motivated by knowing that they too could yet miss out on a semi-final spot.

. What: Australia v India
. Where: Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, Gros Islet
. When: 00:30 (AEST), Tuesday 25th June 2024
. How to watch: Prime Video
. Odds: Australia 2.10, India 1.72

Batting strength slips away

Australia seemed to have done a pretty good job with the ball as they restricted Afghanistan to 148-6, with Cummins the standout as he became the first bowler to take back-to-back hat-tricks in T20I cricket.

Adam Zampa, 4.33 to be Team - Top Bowler against India, was his usual reliable self as he claimed 2-28, while the decision to replace Mitchell Starc with left-arm spinner Ashton Agar paid off as the latter conceded just 17 runs from his four overs.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran put on 118 for the first wicket, but it took them almost 16 overs as the Baggy Greens appeared to be in control.

However, the fact that deep batting had not been needed so far in the tournament then came back to bite the Aussies, as they were reduced to 32-3, with Travis Head failing to score and David Warner departing for three, having faced eight balls.

Skipper Mitch Marsh and Marcus Stoinis both made it into double figures, just, while no other batter manged to do that, apart from Glenn Maxwell, who smacked 59 from 41 deliveries.

However, when he fell as one of four wickets for seamer Gulbadin Naib, the Aussie tail was soon swept away to leave them well short on 127 all out inside the final over.

Now the job is to respond quickly, with the next game almost certainly a must-win, although a change of venue and the travel involved is not the best way to prepare.

The takeaways from the defeat are that the bowlers pretty much did their jobs again, but the batting crumbled when it was asked to deliver all the way down the order for the first time in the competition.

India starting to look like favourites

The really bad news for Australia is that India are beginning to click into top gear, having beaten Afghanistan by 47 runs and Bangladesh by 50 runs in their two Super 8 games.

India have put 181-8 and 196-5 on the board when batting first in both of those contests, with the runs been shared around and superstar Virat Kohli looking back to form in making 37 from 23 balls against the Tigers.

He is priced at 3.50 to be Team - Top Batter against the Aussies in Saint Lucia.

However, it is with the ball that India have been outstanding, with left-arm seamer Arshdeep Singh and right-arm quick Jasprit Bumrah leading the way.

Bumrah, 3.50 to be Team - Top Bowler on Tuesday, has ridiculous figures of 10-65 from five matches played in the tournament, going for just 3.42 runs an over, while Arshdeep has taken 12 wickets at an average of 11.75.

Add in the all-round talents of Hardik Pandya, who has taken two wickets or more in three of his last five matches and also hit a half-century against Bangladesh last time out.

Then there is the left-arm mystery spin of Kuldeep Yadav, who sat out the group stage, but has since claimed five wickets across two Super 8 outings.

Recent history is also on India’s side, as they have won six of the last seven T20I meetings between the two sides and are currently hot fancies at 2.50 to win the T20 World Cup, with Australia having slipped to 6.00, behind England at 5.50.

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