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India vs Australia, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: India is ready to clash with Australia in london at the oval.

London: Three months ago, if you were asked to pick a favourite for India vs Australia clash, the answer would have been a resounding 'India'.

However, as the two teams head into their World Cup group stage clash at the Kennington Oval, what would have been considered a lop-sided contest a few months ago has turned into a clash of heavyweights.

It's funny how things drastically change in a short period of time. Australia were struggling big time in the ODI arena with 22 losses from 28 games in the two-year period from 2017 to 2019 (30 Jan to 5 March) but in a dramatic turnaround, they now go into the World Cup clash with India on the back of a 10-match winning streak and are being considered one of the title contenders.

After an easy win against Afghanistan, Australia wobbled early against West Indies and were 38/4 before Steven Smith and Nathan Coulter-Nile came to their rescue with the bat and then Mitchell Starc with the old ball. The shades of the old Australia were visible with their much-vaunted mental strength on display.

The top-order's struggle against the short ball wouldn't have escaped India's eye in this world of television, computers, and analysts. And this is where the new ball could hold the key in the match. Gaining early momentum in the match will be crucial.

The last couple of days in London have experienced rain and overcast conditions with a strong breeze. Even in bright sunshine, the wind speed generally hasn't relented. And it could be a factor early on in the innings. Captains would look to bowl first after winning the toss.

Jasprit Bumrah has been breathing fire and it was his first spell at The Rose Bowl, a spell-binding one, that set the tone against South Africa.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar too has had quite a bit of success against Australia in the last couple of years (Since 1 June 2017). He is the highest wicket-taking pacer against the Aussies in that period.

Although Australia's struggles against pace in the last match might make the Indian think tank ponder over playing Mohammed Shami, who can ramp up good pace and has sharp short deliveries, as a third seamer or maybe in place of Bhuvneshwar, in search for some chin music. In which case they might opt to go with Ravindra Jadeja in place of Kuldeep Yadav to lend stability to the batting.

With Kuldeep having bowled well against South Africa, the question is, would India want to drop him and fiddle with the winning combination?

Australia, on the other hand, would like to target the top order early via Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins and then exploit India's perceived middle-order weakness.

There is another battle within the battle — between Indian spinners and Australian batsmen.

The series that sparked Australia's resurrection in March saw them counter spin well in India. And over the last three months, the batsmen have shown marked improvement against spin, their perennial Achilles heel.

India's spinners averaged 45 in that series where Australia stunned them 3-2 coming back from 2-0 down.  In their next ODI series, against Pakistan, the Australian batsmen averaged 77.37 against spin. The Australian middle order has good players of spin.

This is the same pitch where Bangladesh spinners scalped six out of eight wickets before going down fighting to New Zealand. Against a strong batting line-up that bats deep, the Indian spinners' role becomes important especially with ODI cricket slowly experiencing a paradigm shift with middle overs holding the key.

Australia might not want to tamper with their winning combination as well.
India walked away with a lot of positives from the South Africa game and it seems the middle order jigsaw is finally falling into place with KL Rahul and MS Dhoni getting into the groove in  No 4 and 5 positions.

Bumrah will again be India's trump card with the kind of rhythm and form he has been, while Adam Zampa will be the key man for Australia. He's had decent success against India with most wickets by a spinner in the last 2 years — 15 at second-best average of 33.73 for spinners to have bowled more than 50 overs.

Two of the three games have witnessed 300-plus totals at The Oval and we can expect another high-scoring contest on Sunday.

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