W2W4 at Cricket World Cup: India-Australia highlights competitive week

It’s Week 2 of the Cricket World Cup and that means Team India is playing not once, but twice in the next seven days. The team will kick-start its quest on June 5 against South Africa, followed by what will surely be a nail-biter against Australia early Sunday morning on the east coast. Apart from India, the other four Asian teams — Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — will also take the field. If you missed the major upset win by Pakistan against England early Monday, do not fret. There are several other great matches to look out for this week. Here are our top three:

India vs. South Africa

Wednesday, June 5; 5:30 a.m. ET

The Indian team seems to be taking it easy in the days leading up to their first match. It was spotted at a paint-bowling session and a joint-gym session. The Proteas are having a disastrous start to their world cup campaign, losing first to hosts England in a close chase, followed by a failed 330-run chase against Bangladesh. The Indian bowling attack, led by Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, will hope to perfect the pace in the death overs in preparation for tougher teams such as England and Australia. Meanwhile, South Africa’s Faf du Plessis will have to come up with a new pace-bowling strategy of his own, after an untimely injury for Lungi Ngidi and doubts about Dale Steyn’s readiness to return.

Australia vs. West Indies

Thursday, June 6, 5:30 a.m. ET

The defending champions, Australia, and West Indies are off to a solid start this World Cup with easy victories over Afghanistan and Pakistan, respectively. David Warner, despite having to deal with heavy jibes from the English fans (they, understandably, have not forgotten about the cheating scandal he was involved in), is looking in good form, scoring a match-winning 89 as the Aussies look for back-to-back World Cups. But if West Indies continues to bowl the way it did in beating Pakistan to 105 all out in in the first match, this is going to be an exciting encounter. Chris Gayle, at the top of West Indies’ batting lineup, and Oshane Thomas, who is leading his team’s bowling attack (his four for 27 against Pakistan was a thing of beauty), are a couple of players to watch in this showdown.

India vs. Australia

Sunday, June 9, 5:30 a.m. ET

If you can catch only one match this week, this one has to be it. The 2011 champions against the 2015 champions. Virat Kohli versus Steve Smith. India will look to avenge the narrow series it lost to Australia in March (India won the first two matches, then dropped the next three). The Indian batting lineup should be on the lookout for fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, who could create a dent in the batting order early. India’s batting lineup, which includes Kohli, MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma, will add depth and make for an exciting and hopefully exciting matchup. There is a good chance these two teams will make the semifinal — so it will be particularly interesting to see how they hold up against each other at this stage.

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