India will lock horns with Australia at Mohali on Sunday © Getty Images
India will lock horns with Australia at Mohali on Sunday © Getty Images

Spin has been India’s primary weapon in the shortest format of the game in the recent times. It is an invaluable weapon to possess in the subcontinent but the pitches so far in the tournament have been contrasting. India is scheduled to play the 31st game of the tournament against Australia, which is virtually a quarter-final. The decisive encounter will be played at Mohali, a pitch which assisted the batsmen when Australia last played there against Pakistan. As spin has been the key behind India’s success it will be interesting to see what kind of pitch is offered for this nerve-wracking encounter. Suraj Choudhari emphasises the fact that Australia will have an upper hand if there is no turn in the pitch to offer.  FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Australia, Match 31, ICC World T20 2016 at Mohali

Australia have an incredible batting line-up, with names such as Aaron Finch, David Warner, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja, and Mitchell Marsh in the mix. This is a dominant line-up full of proven match-winners. These players are well-equipped to tackle pace on non turning tracks. Players like Maxwell, Finch, Marsh, and Watson can inflict massive pain on the opposition once they get going. They may have mastered the art of attacking pace but the same line-up looks bereft of ‘oomph’ as soon as ball starts to turn comprehensively. Preview: India vs Australia, T20 World Cup 2016, Match 31 at Mohali

Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja has been the spine of India’s success in the games so far. They have got the ball to turn and have caught the batsmen with a web spun around them. It is a different matter if the track is not a turner. Maxwell, Smith, Watson, Warner, Faulkner, and Finch have immense Indian Premier League (IPL) experience. Maxwell and Ashwin famously took each other on in the 2014 edition of IPL, with both men enjoying success against each other at varying times. A similar outing could be expected at Mohali. READ: Jasprit Bumrah’s spell could turn matches in India’s favour

The Indian pace attack hails of a veteran in Ashish Nehra and two newbies in Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya. They have done a great job by and large, but have looked a bit deflated when the batsmen have looked to attack. Bumrah has been sensational in the death, but his lack of experience in crunch situations can come handy for the Australian batsmen. He was on the receiving end of some stick in the game against Bangladesh but bounced back emphatically in the 19th over of the second innings. The question that arises is whether the Indian attack is powerful enough to contain the star-studded Australian batting if spin is out of the equation. If their spin attack flounders, India lack enough back-up options to counter Australia.  READ: India’s conundrum with Mohammed Shami

Though India may have conquered the three-match T20I series Down Under, the series was played at a different venue and Indian batsmen delivered on every occasion. In all the three games, Indian bowlers were under the pump but what came to India’s rescue was their batting. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma were in fabulous form and scored a majority of the runs at the top. The same flair in the Indian batting has gone for a toss in the tournament so far. Rohit has not looked in great touch and the onus has come entirely on Kohli. Suresh Raina too has been in miserable form, combined with Shikhar Dhawan’s inconsistency. Looking at the current form, if a comparison is drawn between both the teams’ batting, then Australia undoubtedly wear a dominant look.

Australia played their last game at this venue against Pakistan where they posted a gigantic 193 successfully defended it. This is a testament to their ability to take on the big guns as Pakistan have a formidable bowling attack. If Mohali is going to test the explosive batting skills of both the teams and offer a flat track than the ball is surely in Australia’s court. Spin will play a colossal role in this critical game, and if Mohali has some assistance for the spinners than India can sit comfortably and let Ashwin, Jadeja, and Raina make Australian batsmen dance on their tweakers.

(Suraj Choudhari is a reporter with Criclife and CricketCountry. He is an avid follower of the game, and plays the sport at club level. He has a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, and tries to express it through paper and pen)