Australia will take on India later today in the first match of the best-of-three finals series, with both teams looking for a positive start. The controversy throughout the summer has overshadowed some phenomenal cricket, and the Commonwealth Bank series has lived up to all expectations.
When the teams walk out to the middle of the SCG tomorrow it will be the ninth time they have met in the past two months. It was at the SCG that the summer of controversy began with the Harbhajan Singh racism row, and ever since then it seems that it has kept on coming. The most recent incident was Matthew Hayden’s ‘obnoxious weed’ comment directed towards Singh, for which he received a reprimand from Cricket Australia.
Behind all the controversy there have been competitive cricket matches. India will head into today’s match feeling confident after seeing Australia collapse at the MCG on Friday night against Sri Lanka. After scoring a hundred without the loss of a wicket, Australia collapsed to be all out for 208, losing by 13 runs.
However, the last time these two teams played at the SCG, just a week ago, Australia took the honours after posting a first innings total of 317. Both sides have looked shaky at times throughout the tournament, especially the batsmen, who haven’t been able to gain any sort of consistency heading into the finals.
The toss will play an important role in the match, with both captains a surety of batting first on the flat SCG wicket. The key for Australia lies with Michael Clarke and Brett Lee. Despite getting out for a duck against Sri Lanka, Michael Clarke has looked the most consistent batsman of the tournament, holding the Australian team together on countless occasions.
Clarke has come of age in this series, performing when his team needs it most, and playing selflessly in any role the situation requires. When the team needs rebuilding he will play the anchor role, playing watchfully and cautiously and trying to bat right to the end. If the team is firing, he will come out and try to score quick runs.
Brett Lee, the newly crowned Allan Border medalist, is Australia’s key bowler. He will need to fire and take early wickets with the new ball to keep India’s batting order quiet.
Fours have been hit, wickets have been taken, words have been said, and now the stage is set for what should be an enthralling finals series. The match will begin at 2:15pm local time.
Chris Hartley, The Cheers News
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