SYDNEY: With two confident teams going head-to-head in a blockbuster World Cup semi-final on Thursday, it could be the tiniest misjudgment, the smallest detail that decides whether Australia or India emerge triumphant.
Disregarding perhaps only the toss, Australia’s biggest decision this week is likely to be whether to include spinner Xavier Doherty in their side to face the world champions.
Much, of course, will depend on the wicket, which on Tuesday afternoon was covered by a huge white blanket as rain tumbled down on the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
If, as coach Darren Lehmann expects, it is a similar track to that on which Australia beat Sri Lanka in the pool stage, Doherty’s contribution might be restricted to handing out water bottles.
If, however, it is more similar to the wicket on which spinners Imran Tahir and JP Duminy took seven wickets in South Africa’s quarter-final win over the Sri Lankans last week, Doherty might be set for his second start.
The trouble for Australia is that despite the SCG’s tradition for offering turn, it is not always that easy to tell in advance whether a track will or not.
“Last time we played here, it looked like the wicket would spin quite a bit but it didn’t, it played really true,”Australia opener Aaron Finch said on Tuesday.
“It’s still two days out from the game so it’s hard to tell, the wicket can change quite a bit here in Sydney in two days.”
Left-armer Doherty did play against Sri Lanka, going for sixty runs without adding to his less-than-stellar tally of 55 wickets in 60 one-day internationals.
Australia captain Michael Clarke is a big fan of including a spin bowler, especially at his home ground, but is no longer a selector.