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World T20: 5 Australians who can trump India in winner-takes-all affair

Rohan Raj | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 6:03 IST

Touted as favourites to win the ICC World T20, MS Dhoni-led India find themselves on the brink of elimination as they take on the 2015 World Cup winners Australia in the crunch game at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium in Mohali on 27 March.

Few would have anticipated the challenges Team India has faced to stay in contention for the semi-finals berth. Losing their opening match to New Zealand, Dhoni's men fought off Pakistan and managed to negate Bangladesh in their last game.

The Indian cricket team now face Steve Smith's men who have enjoyed two consecutive wins after a loss to the Black Caps in their opening tie. The Aussies also enjoy a better Net Run-Rate (NRR) of (+) 0.440 than the hosts who are currently placed third with a NRR of (-) 0.546.

Having secured four points each, both India and Australia will have one last chance to enter the last four stage with tomorrow's encounter becoming a virtual quarter-final for both the teams.

As the two teams get ready for the all-important clash, here's a look at five Australian stars who can cut short India's journey in ICC World T20:

Usman Khawaja

Usman Khawaja_Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The left-handed batsman has played a series of crucial knocks for Australia in the ongoing tournament. Having scored 117 runs in the three games so far, the swashbuckling opener is currently the leading run-scorer for his side. He also boasts a strike rate of 132.95 including 16 fours and two sixes.

The Australian opener showed a lot of promise with his 27-ball 38 against New Zealand in the opening match. He notched up his first World T20 fifty after smashing a 45-ball 58 against Bangladesh in Bengaluru. Though he missed out against Pakistan in the last game, expect Khawaja to come out all guns blazing against India.

Shane Watson

Shane Watson_Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The Australian all-rounder is currently enjoying the best form of his life. Having announced his retirement after the ongoing ICC World T20, the 34-year-old cricketer is making the most of each and every game in the tournament. He has taken three wickets, while scoring some quick runs for his side in the tournament so far.

After opening the innings for Australia in the first two games, Watto might not have made a huge impact with the bat, but his newly-found role as a finisher gave a glimpse of his batting prowess when he smashed a blistering 21-ball 44 against Pakistan in the last match.

Adam Zampa

Adam Zampa_Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Ever since his notable exploits in the Big Bash League, Adam Zampa has been an integral part of the Australian cricket team. The 23-year-old bowler has adjusted to the conditions well and his spin variations has troubled quality batsmen in the tournament so far.

The young leg-spinner has taken five wickets at an economy of 6.44 in the tournament. After missing out in the first game against New Zealand, Zampa recorded his best bowling figures of 3/23 in the tournament against Bangladesh. He also took two crucial wickets of Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi in the crunch game against Pakistan.

Steve Smith

Steve Smith_Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Rated as one of the most influential batsmen in limited-overs cricket, Steve Smith's availability in the batting-order provides the much-needed stability to Australia. The 26-year-old is well versed with the Indian conditions and his experience in the Indian Premier League has helped him on tricky wickets.

After missing out in the first two games, the Aussie skipper struck back to form with an unbeaten 43-ball 61 against Pakistan. His innings paved way for Australia's imposing total of 193 which took the game away from Shahid Afridi's men. Having smashed eight fours and a six in the tournament, count on Smith to give the Indian bowlers a run for their money tomorrow.

James Faulkner

James Faulkner_Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The Australian all-rounder has turned out to be a vital cog in Australia's limited-overs lineup. An accurate left-armer who can move the ball both ways, Faulkner's success with his deceptive slower ball has made him a handful in the shorter formats.

The 25-year-old is currently the leading wicket-taker for Australia for his tally of seven wickets in three games. He was excellent in the last game against Pakistan where he ended his spell with the bowling figures of 5/27. Faulkner will be raring to go in the crunch match against India, while his personal duel with Virat Kohli remains the most exciting battle.

First published: 26 March 2016, 4:12 IST
Rohan Raj @ro4an_raj

After a poor stint in gully-cricket quashed his hopes of turning pro, Rohan moved away from the playing field and began criticising those who were still on it. Football eases his mind and watching City paint Manchester blue is his elusive dream. When not talking, thinking or dreaming about sports, Rohan can be found listening to EDM or watching movies. A sports correspondent at Catch News, he has previously worked with Hindustan Times, Daily Bhaskar and India Today.