India faces Australia in a must-win match

India’s batting, considered to be its strength, is yet to make an impact in the tournament. That is the primary reason behind the team's scrappy progress till now. The Aussies, meanwhile, have shrugged off a shaky start and were clinical against Pakistan.

India's openers, Shikhar Dhawan (left) and Rohit Sharma, are yet to fire in the World Twenty20. On a batting track at Mohali, their start will be crucial for the host.   -  R. V. Moorthy

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s three-second sprint to glory in Bengaluru could well turn out to be a defining moment for Indian cricket. It has the spark to spur the host to get its act together in the remainder of the World Twenty20.

A heart-stopping win like the one against Bangladesh does not come every now and then. It must have been a great experience for >Jasprit Bumrah and >Hardik Pandya, both 22 years old, and would have hardened them for bigger battles.

Indeed, sterner tests, starting with Sunday’s must-win contest against Australia for a place in the semifinals, are awaiting India in the mega event.

READ: >Watson relishing India challenge

So far in the World T20, India has not appeared to be in the “auto-pilot mode” that took the side on a smooth ride to Asia Cup victory. Instead, it has experienced a hackneyed journey – stumbling, recovering and regaining balance to be on the course for a berth in the last-four. If the loss to New Zealand was a rude awakening, the toiling victory against Pakistan was far from comforting. The jailbreak against Bangladesh was even more humbling. It must have taught India to value every run, every catch, every chance and every moment as several lapses had almost let the side down in that engrossing encounter.





OVER-DEPENDENCE ON KOHLI

India’s batting, considered to be its strength, is yet to make an impact in the tournament. That is the primary reason behind the team's scrappy progress till now. The over-dependence on Virat Kohli is apparent. It is high time the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina performed more consistently. READ: >Kohli: Need to stay in the moment

India’s bowling has been top class. Be it Ravichandran Ashwin’s skills or Ravindra Jadeja’s control or Bumrah’s accuracy or ‘bowling guide’ Nehra's expertise or Pandya’s aggression – the Indian attack has the wherewithal to check the best of batting orders.

READ: >Gautam Gambhir's Column

Notwithstanding a rare sloppy session in Bengaluru, the host is not far behind in fielding.

India achieving a 3-0 whitewash against Australia Down Under in January must be fresh in the memories of the two opponents. But they are smart enough to forget the past and focus on the task in hand.

The stakes will be high though considering the level of professionalism of both the sides.

AUSTRALIA ASCENDANT

The Aussies shrugged off a shaky start — a defeat to New Zealand and a narrow win against Bangladesh — to give a far more clinical performance to outgun Pakistan. With its top-order batsmen — including Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell, >Steve Smith and >Shane Watson — firing and bowlers — such as James Faulkner, Adam Zampa and Josh Hazlewood — shining, Australia looks to be the team on ascendancy.

The pitch at the PCA Stadium has favoured the batsmen, while India has played on spinner-friendly tracks so far. The surface in the middle will invite as much attention as the action on it involving two top contenders for the title.

Head to head in T20Is:-

Total: 12, India: 8, Australia: 4.

India and Australia met each other Down Under earlier this year with the visitors making a clean sweep of the three-match series. In the World T20, both sides have an even record, winning two matches apiece

Weather: The weather forecast is for a clear sunny day. So, fans should be assured of watching both the matches, a women's engagement followed by the men's contest, scheduled on the day without any weather interruption.

Pitch: The pitch at the PCA Stadium has proved to be ideal for Twenty20 contests so far. It is expected to provide some assistance for the batters as well as the bowlers.

WATCH: >Faulkner: It's just friendly banter with Kohli

Snippet: The PCA Stadium at Mohali will be part of history when it hosts a double-header featuring Indian men and women cricket teams. The men and women in blue have done it before on foreign soil but never have they played on the same ground on the same day in India. The holiday crowd should enjoy the rare occurrence.

Squads:

India: M. S. Dhoni (capt., wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Pawan Negi and Mohammad Shami.

Australia: Steve Smith (capt.), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill (wk), Andrew Tye, Shane Watson and Adam Zampa.