Cricket World Cup 2015: India spinners to test Australia - Agnew

By Jonathan AgnewBBC cricket correspondent
Cricket World Cup 2015: Australia beat Pakistan to reach semi-finals
World Cup semi-final: Australia v India
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground Date: Thu 26 March Time: 03:30 GMT
Coverage: Live Test Match Special radio and text commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio 4 Long Wave & BBC Sport website, plus desktop, tablets, mobiles and app

Playing India in Sydney is about the stiffest challenge Australia could have been given as they seek to join New Zealand in the final of the World Cup.

This match will be played on a pitch that should turn and grip, so you feel that India will give Australia a tougher examination than New Zealand or South Africa would have done at this stage.

Not only will Australia have to deal with India's spinners in conditions that should suit them, they will also have to consider their own options.

Do they continue with the battery of fast bowlers that has served them so well throughout the tournament, or do they include the left-arm spin of Xavier Doherty?

Some can point to the fact that India failed to win any of their 10 matches in all formats on their tour of Australia between November and January, but they have played very good cricket since then to get to this stage with seven wins from seven matches.

India's 11-game World Cup winning run
2011W Indies (Pool B)Chennai, IndiaWon by 80 runs
2011Australia (Quarter-final)Ahmedabad, IndiaWon by five wickets
2011Pakistan (Semi-final)Mohali, IndiaWon by 29 runs
2011Sri Lanka (Final)Mumbai, IndiaWon by six wickets
2015Pakistan (Pool B)Adelaide, AustraliaWon by 76 runs
2015S Africa (Pool B)Melbourne, AustraliaWon by 130 runs
2015UAE (Pool B)Perth, AustraliaWon by nine wickets
2015W Indies (Pool B)Perth, AustraliaWon by four wickets
2015Ireland (Pool B)Hamilton, NZWon by eight wkts
2015Zimbabwe (Pool B)Auckland, NZWon by six wickets
2015Bangladesh (Quarter-final)Melbourne, AustraliaWon by 109 runs

Australia also had some alarms in their quarter-final win against Pakistan, Wahab Riaz roughing up their top order with a spell of very hostile, very pacey fast bowling.

They are unlikely to face anything like that in this match, rather the different challenge of India's slow bowlers on a pitch that turned during the South Africa-Sri Lanka quarter-final.

Clarke's men also have to cope with the pressure of a home public that expects them to win this tournament. Yes, they will be buoyed by their good record against India, but Dhoni's men are used to playing in these high-stakes games.

Cricket World Cup 2015: India beat Bangladesh to reach semi-finals

They are under constant pressure at home, play in front of baying crowds in the Indian Premier League and have that excellent record in knockout matches.

However, India will have to find a way of playing left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc, who, along with Boult and Southee, has been the outstanding bowler of the tournament.

Ideally, they would like to bat first, then put the screws on Australia's chase.

I'm looking forward to this contest immensely and it is very difficult to choose a winner. If Australia do come through, then it will be a huge tick for their credentials as World Cup winners.

Win in Sydney and you suspect it will be Clarke's men celebrating in Melbourne by beating New Zealand in the final.

Listen to highlights from Test Match Special's and 5 live Sport's 2015 World Cup coverage.