Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 26th 2015 Contents A69
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SYDNEY---Australia and India have
won six of the last eight Cricket World
Cup titles and have developed a heated
rivalry over the last decade. When the
teams meet in the World Cup semi-
final today at the Sydney Cricket
Ground, there s bound to be some fric-
tion. Both captains have attacking
mindsets in the 50-over format, and
the top order of both batting lineups
are stacked with free-hitting players,
so there s also bound to be some enter-
taining and enterprising cricket.
The winner will advance to Sunday s
final against New Zealand at the Mel-
bourne Cricket Ground. Here are some
things to watch:
THE SLEDGE: Not a universally recog-
nised term but widely known in cricket
circles as a tactic used to distract an
opposition player with banter or insulting
comments, be it subtle, implied or obvi-
Australian teams are good at it. Recent
series between Australia and England,
and Australia and India have featured
heated verbal exchanges, and players
from those teams have been fined and
Australian opener David Warner is
reported to be on his last warning before
some kind of ban is imposed, and all-
rounder Shane Watson conceded yes-
terday that he can t be far off after being
fined for his part in an angry episode in
the quarterfinal win over Pakistan. Nei-
ther player wants to risk being suspended
for the final, but there are others---pace-
man Mitchell Johnson jokingly volun-
teered---to take up the banter in the semi-
final against India.
"I don t want to get fined again or get
suspended so I know I m going to have
to be even more diligent with what I say,
when I say it and how I say it," Watson
said. "Based on my last fine, I am just
about on my last warning."
Australian skipper Michael Clarke was
asked if Warner s attitude had changed
since the International Cricket Council
AUCKLAND---For the New Zealand cricket team,
preparations for its first-ever World Cup final in
Melbourne on Sunday can wait a day.
The Kiwi players and coaching staff are reluctant
to let go of their extraordinary semi-final win over
South Africa at Eden Park, preferring to live a little
longer in the moment and enjoy the afterglow of one
of New Zealand s greatest victories.
The team was due to fly to Melbourne yesterday
to prepare for a final against either Australia or India,
but only hours after the thrilling finish to their semi-
final, Sunday s match seemed remote.
"I think today it is still about letting it sink in.
When you achieve something as special as we have
done you don t want to park it too quickly," Captain
"You ve got to allow yourself the opportunity to
stop and smell the roses," he said. "Today is about
enjoying that. Tomorrow we will turn out attention
What to watch in semi-final
Free hitting on show at Sydney
announced a crackdown on the
sledging tactics for the World Cup.
"David will be fine. He knows
the rules, as we all do," Clarke said.
UNDER PRESSURE: Virat Kohli
has thrived in matches against Aus-
tralia, with his combative style com-
ing to the fore. He is one of three
players in the India squad who fea-
tured in the World Cup final in 2011,
so he knows all about the pressure
of local expectations.
India is the only country to have
won the Cricket World Cup title on
home soil. Australia has won it in
Asia, Africa, Europe and the
Caribbean, but failed miserably in
1992---the only previous time the
tournament was staged in Australia
and New Zealand.
"I m sure they ll be under massive
pressure," Kohli said in a television
interview for Fox Sports. "I can
understand, we played at home last
time around and every ball, every
player, every over that we played of
any game was really nerve-wrack-
AWAY CROWD: Rohit Sharma
expects there to be more blue shirts
than yellow shirts in the Sydney
Cricket Ground crowd for the semi-
final, with the number of India fans
expected to far outweigh the number
of hometown supporters.
"We ve played in India a number
of times and they out-support us
there as well," Clarke said. "We don t
need any more motivation. We
know we ve got the support of the
Australian public. We ve felt it the
whole tournament, and we ll feel it
again tomorrow whether it s 30 per
cent of the fans here or 50 per cent
of the fans."
India has played Australia 14 ODIs
at the Sydney Cricket Ground since
1980 for only one win---in 2008 ---
although it has registered wins at
the venue against England, New
Zealand and Pakistan.
"I thought they would have had
a better success rate at the SCG
than that, so that does surprise me,"
Clarke said. "But it probably does
show how Australia loves playing
in their own back yard."
ROAD WARRIORS: The India
squad landed in Australia in Novem-
ber and went through a test series
against the Aussies and a limited-
overs tri-series against Australia
and England without winning a
match. India also lost a World Cup
warmup match to Australia before
starting the tournament proper with
a big win over archrival Pakistan
which sparked a seven-game win-
"When you re away for four
months, you definitely miss home,
there is no doubt," Sharma said.
"But we are here on a mission and
the mission is to win the World
"If you look at the way the last
one and a half months has gone,
it s been really good, so we have to
make the last four months we have
spent here a reward by winning the
semi-finals and the finals. We don t
mind for staying away for five
months that way."
Australia's captain Michael Clarke, left, chats with David Warner after
batting practice for the Cricket World Cup in Sydney, Australia, yesterday.
Australia will play India in a World Cup semi-final today to gain a place in
the final against New Zealand. AP PHOTO
New Zealand team savours semi-final win
to the final." McCullum and coach Mike Hesson had
only a few hours sleep before rising Wednesday and
facing reporters immediately before their departure
Hesson said he had been "pretty wired" when he
returned to the team hotel in the early hours of the
morning and after a low-key celebration with players
family and friends.
He said there had been an "ebb and flow" of emo-
tion throughout Tuesday s game; optimism at times,
hope at others, desperation an finally a mixture of
joy and relief Grant Elliott hit the penultimate ball
for six to win the match.
"There were obviously a lot of emotions through-
out," Hesson said. "I never thought we would get
over the line until we saw the ball disappearing.
"I don t even know where it landed. I just jumped
up and carried on. It was a whole heap of emotion,
a whole heap of pride in the group. You have got a
group of guys that did everything for each other. To
put in a performance like that last night, with a
crowd like that, it was very special."
McCullum said that even he wasn t fully confident
that New Zealand would win as it chased 298 runs
in 43 overs of the rain-shortened match.
Hesson said he was sitting apart from other mem-
bers of the Black Caps coaching staff through the
tense final overs, but no-one wanted to move lest
they jinx the New Zealand run chase.
"There s a lot of superstition in cricket and you
don t want to leave, especially at times like that.
When it happened we just jumped up and hugged
everyone in sight and yelled."
Elliott said New Zealand had no preference about
who it would play in the final, but will closely watch
the Australia-India semi-final on Thursday.
"I guess it would be quite nice to play Australia
just because the game we had here (in pool play) was
a close game," he said.
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