Sunil Gavaskar column: India will be in trouble if Maxwell finds his top form again

The Australian batsman is a game changer

By Sunil Gavaskar

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Australia's Glenn Maxwell during a practice session. — PTI
Australia's Glenn Maxwell during a practice session. — PTI

Published: Sun 19 Nov 2023, 7:00 AM

Here we are, then. Modern Cricket's greatest rivals will clash to wrest the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup. There could not have been a better setting than the coliseum, which is the Shri Narendra Modi stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad.

India have come through smoothly with the odd amber light to slow down while the Australians have had to deal with a couple of red lights before they came to Ahmedabad.

Both teams are as ready as *ready* can be and we could be in for what could well turn out to be as good a final as the last one in England when England finally won the title.

In the T20 format, it is usually said that the powerplay decides which way the game is going to go. In this 50 overs World Cup that has been true of the games that India has won, both while batting as well as bowling they have done exceptionally well in the first ten overs to set the tone for the rest of the game. Yes, there have been occasions when they have had to draw on the experience of earlier times to regain their grip on the game and they have done that in style.

Their batters are the dream boys as usual with the top five in tremendous form, but this time around, their bowlers have opened the eyes of the cricketing world and showed that while batters win matches, it is bowlers who win tournaments. Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj have been devastating with the ball and whenever they have been given a breather, the spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav have smilingly lured the batters to their doom. No team has had an attack like this in the tournament and even on pitches which have been flat, the Indian bowlers have found a way to break through.

The Australians are not too far behind with the left and right hand combo of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and skipper Pat Cummins making life tough for the batters. Adam Zampa has bowled cleverly and used the pressure built by the pacers to grab wickets in the middle overs.

Travis Head and Glenn Maxwell are nowhere near Nathan Lyon but have got wickets at crucial times for Australia.

What Rohit Sharma does for India in the first power play, the two Aussie southpaws Travis Head and David Warner do for Australia. They get after the bowlers straightaway and get the team off to a flying start.

They will be the danger men that India will have to get rid off mighty early. Then there is Maxwell.

It was said in earlier times about the Pakistan team that nobody knew which Pakistan team was going to turn up and enter the field. The world beating one or the below club level one. The same can be said about Maxwell. Nobody knows what they are going to get to see on the day. Make no mistake though, if it is the Maxwell against Afghanistan that the Wankhede Stadium was fortunate to see, then India may well kiss their World Cup dreams good bye. He is a game changer bar none. The staunch Indian fans might not enjoy it but the discerning ones will know they are watching someone they won't find again.

Usually when two top sides clash in cricket the battle is between one side's batters against the other side's bowlers. This time around though the two teams are so well balanced in both batting and bowling, it is hard to separate them.

The fielding could well be the difference and here the Aussies are much better than the Indians. More than batting and bowling it is in fielding that one has to hold one's nerve and so the team that holds theirs will be holding the Trophy aloft too. (Professional Management Group)

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