Its big battle ahead of the knockout stage in the tournament in which mighty Pakis will take on invincible Aussies. This battle will decide who will top the Group A. There is no suspense in Group A as all the top teams who were expected to go into quarter-finals has already made it. If Australia wins they will lead the Group A. If Pakistan win then they will lead the Group A. So it will be interesting to see who ends up on top from Group A.
Looking at the venue, Premdasa Stadium I think Pakistan is favourite to win the contest because they have the team which suits more to the conditions and pitch as compare to Australia. Shahid Afridi captain of Pakistan team is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament so far and he holds the key to Pakistan bowling. Its interesting to see whom Pakistan play as second spinner. They have Ahmad, Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Razzak to choose from. So far Afridi bamboozled opposition batsmen with his leg-spin bowling and without much support from other spinners, so it becomes more interesting as Aussies are vulnerable to spin. They have good pace bowlers in Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar and Abdul Razzak but I think Shoaib Akhtar is doubtful for this match due to the little niggle which he is carrying from the beginning of the tournament. Although Shoaib Akhtar will definitely love to play this game as he has announced his retirement after this World Cup. So he will try to play as many matches as possible before the World Cup gets over.If Pakistan reach the finals then Akhtar will play big role in Pakistan's scheme of things.
As far as Pakistan batting is concerned, they have all kind of issues in the top-order and batting is the weakest link of Pakistan. Misbah and Younis fired in few matches but they are not consistent and Umar Akmal's injury don't help Pakistan either. So Pakistan have to settle few batting issues before the knockout stage and this is the match where they have the chance to do so. Ahmed Shehjad has given some hopes to Afridi at top of the order but it will be interesting to see how he handles the pace of Lee, Tait and Johnson. I believe Afridi have to shoulder more responsibility with bat as well if Pakistan wants to win this match and the World Cup.
Talking about Australia, well they are invincible in World Cup since 1999 World Cup finals but remember Pakistan is the team which defeated them last time in World Cup 1999. So they have to be careful against their unpredictable opposition. Form of Ponting is big concern for Aussies as Ponting failed miserably with the bat in last 4 months and captain's poor form definitely affects the team performance. Aussies will go into match with the intention of winning it and try to keep their unbeaten record intact with the win but things will not going to be that easy on the slow and turning pitch of Premdasa. Watson and Haddin have to provide them best of the starts, so that middle-order comes in and capitalise on the platform give by their openers. Form of Michael Clarke is heartening from the Aussie perspective. They have one of the best bowling line-up in the world as two of the fastest bowlers in the world cricket in Lee and Tait opens the bowling and they are backed with bowler like Mitchell Johnson. They have handy spinner in Jason Krezja who can do wonders on the turning pitch.
So, exciting contest in the offering as both teams fight for the glory today and try to gain momentum ahead of knockout stage.
India will fight to regain their favourites tag at Chepauk.
India will go into the match against West Indies with the intention to win it comprehensively after all the cricticism they faced in the past week after their loss to South Africa at Orange City which really hanged sword on their chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals. I also think this is last chance for Dr. Dhoni to experiment with the combination because after this match he will not get any chance of experiment and if he tries to experiment in kncokout stage and if that fails then his ass will going to be pissed off by the BCCI and public. That will also impact the viewership of IPL. I think this year's IPL viewership will also depends largely on India's World Cup performance because there is only 6 day gap between end of World Cup and commencement of IPL and BCCI don't want to fail in organising IPL especially after the termination of Mr. Lalit Modi.So Team India's performance in the World Cup campaign will directly affect the IPL. So Dhoni have to be careful and have to win the trophy for the IPL and BCCI instead of public and Sachin Tendulkar.
As much as the wicket holds up, the constant getting more and more prominent is the advantage of winning the toss. Bar flies at the Madras Cricket Club have now calculated that winning the toss - and batting first - is like adding 75 to the total, even before a ball has been bowled. The problem may well be that ODIs haven't been played in Chennai during the month of March for the last 15 years. The last one was the 1996 World Cup quarter-final, between two teams who will be glued to Sunday's game, Australia and New Zealand.
On Sunday, for India to find their mojo and West Indies to give themselves a chance to hang on in the Cup, prayers around the toss must be abandoned. For all its trials, the Chepauk track must be made immaterial. Between the two teams, India have the best of all options, other than fielding of course. The team turned up at Chepauk on Friday for the first time in the lead-up to the match. There was an energetic game of football and the first two batsmen in the nets were Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina, and the first bowler wheeling his arm over was local offspinner R Ashwin.
While Ashwin's inclusion in the XI is as good as a foregone conclusion and far removed from Piyush Chawla's absence from the nets on Friday, there is every chance that Suresh Raina may make his way into the squad as well. The reasons are several: the confidence of his batting in Indian conditions, his ability to quickly churn out a few part-time overs and the speed and energy of his legs. Yusuf Pathan may well look like the easiest candidate to be replaced, but Raina's inclusion in place of Pathan will not be a case of like replacing like. The left-hander may be a purely attacking middle-order batsman, but a power hitter he is not. The choice of India 11 will be a dilemma because, on Sunday, they would like to field the squad that can move ahead in the tournament. Any switches, other than due to injury, between their last group game and their first quarter-final is flirting with hazard. The Indians may live in a silent bubble, but the rumblings about their Nagpur performance are being felt. Bowlers, who always consider themselves the footsoldiers, grumble that once again they are copping the flak for India's flashy cavalry of batsmen. It may not make sense for Pathan and Ashish Nehra to be made the easy scapegoats for the middle-order batting failure in Nagpur, but the maths of Indian cricket sometimes works in mysterious ways.
A media storm rose on Thursday evening about a meeting between captain MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, the BCCI secretary N Srinivasan, chairman of selectors Krish Srikkanth, coach Gary Kirsten and bowling coach Eric Simons. It was a pre-planned meeting centred around giving Simons at the very least an interim role as India coach, following Kirsten's departure after the Cup, until a permanent solution to the vacancy is found.
As far as West Indies is concerned they have only defeated minnows so far in the World Cup and lost to South Africa and England, so it will be interesting to see how they play against India. Toss will also play crucial role for them and they would love to win the toss and bat first. I think they must promote Keiron Pollard to No.4 because he is impact player and have to be utilised in a best possible manner. Russell, Sammy, Roach, Benn and Bishoo the debutant of last game forms very good bowling combination and i think West Indies keep their head balanced on their shoulder they beat any team but till now they did not play like a unit and they will certainly work out on this.
West have very good batsmen in Gayle, Drren Bravo, Sarwan and Chanderpaul but all these guys have to play to their potential if they wants to win against India. Gayle provided them very good starts so far in the tournament but couldn't capitalise on those starts. So one or two batsmen who gets the starts must convert those starts into big scores so that West Indies bowlers get something to defend.
India and West Indies will lock horn tomorrow to establish supremacy and contest will going to offer lot of thrill, drama and suspense to the spectators.