MASTER CLASS: Michael Clarke plays a shot in the nets to the bowling of Shane Warne.
MASTER CLASS: Michael Clarke plays a shot in the nets to the bowling of Shane Warne. GETTY IMAGES

Will Indian summer continue for Clarke?

AUSTRALIAN skipper Michael Clarke knows exactly what his team has to do to take on New Zealand in Sunday's World Cup at the MCG - score one run more than India in today's semi-final in Sydney.

Clarke said the Black Caps had shown they could handle the weight of expectation in their thrilling win over South Africa at Eden Park and he said he was confident the Australian team could do the same and continue its domination of India this summer at the SCG.

"Expectation is there because we are the number one ranked team in the world, the expectation is put on you because you have performed," he told reporters.

"Individually, you feel that on a day-to-day basis as an international sportsman. There's been a lot of talk about pressure and expectation, but that comes with the role.

"I think the boys will be fine."

The teams played four Test matches and two ODIs Down Under prior to the World Cup, with Australia winning the Test series 2-0 and the one-dayers (one of which was a non-official warm-up game prior to the start of the tournament), also 2-0.

The only official ODI the teams played was in the tri-series, also involving England, at the MCG in January.

India batted first on that occasion and made 8-267, a target Australia ran down for the loss of six wickets with six balls remaining.

Promoted to opener after the Test series, Rohit Sharma top scored with 138, while Shikhar Dhawan (two), Virat Kohli (nine), and Ajinkya Rahane (12) all failed.

India's bowling attack, heavily criticised in the Test series, included pace bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, and spinners Ravi Ashwin and Axar Patel.

The personnel, and the team's form and attitude, has changed significantly since that game.

Dhawan has scored 367 runs in the World Cup at 52.42, Kohli 304 at 60.80, and Sharma 296 at 49.33.

All-rounder Glenn Maxwell is Australia's leading run-scorer with 301 at 75.25.

Importantly, India's bowling line-up has improved out of sight.

Kumar and Patel are out of the side, replaced by paceman Mohit Sharma and spinner Ravindra Jadeja.

Shami (17 wickets at 13.3), Yadav (14 at 17.8), Ashwin (12 at 24) and Sharma (11 at 21.7) are all among the top 20 wicket-takers in the World Cup, the prime reason India went through the pool stage unbeaten.

Australia has relied heavily on Mitchell Starc (18 at 9.7), and to a lesser degree Mitchell Johnson (10 at 24.6).

Those stats may be one of the reasons William Hill's Andrew Brown said the agency had taken twice as much money on India than Australia to win the game.

The hosts are still the clear favourites, but it may not feel like home with up to 70% of the tickets bought by Indian fans.


Australia: D Warner, A Finch, S Smith, M Clarke (c), S Watson, G Maxwell, J Faulkner, B Haddin, M Johnson, M Starc, J Hazlewood

India: R Sharma, S Dhawan, V Kohli, A Rahane, S Raina, M Dhoni (c), R Jadeja, R Ashwin, M Shami, M Sharma, U Yadav.

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