Sydney, Mar 23: Australian all-rounder James Faulkner today insisted that spin will not play as big a role as is being predicted in the cricket World Cup semifinal against India here on March 26.
While the quarter-final match between South Africa and Sri Lanka saw leg-spinner Imran Tahir and off-spinner JP Duminy share seven wickets among themselves, Faulkner feels that Australia won't be troubled by the lack of spin options during the clash.
"I think they (R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja) are world-class spinners and they have done their job for a long time now. But if you see the wicket in South Africa's match against Sri Lanka, it didn't spin and it was quite easy to get hold of," Faulkner said during a media interaction, here today.
"We will go in with a different team and we are playing in Australia. We will play our best XI. It depends on the wicket and what is produced on game-day," he added.
Faulkner, who is a regular in the Indian Premier League, "is not surprised" with the turnaround of the Indian team, which has now won seven straight games in the World Cup after a winless streak throughout Australian Summer.
"I am not at all surprised that they are doing well. Every time, we have come up against them it has been a very good game of cricket and it has gone right down to the wire. If you go back on the ODI series in India (2013), a lot of runs were scored and there were a lot of great chases," he said.
"Likewise when we have played them here, we have scored 300 and they have been there and thereabouts while chasing it," Faulkner showed a lot of respect for his opposition.
However, Faulkner said he is unaware as to what brought about this sudden change. "I don't know. I haven't been there with them or training with them, so I don't know how to answer that one."
According to Faulkner, one factor that has worked to India's advantage in the World Cup is the amount of time they have spent in this country.
"We have come up against them a hell lot in the last 12-18 months and I think now you have seen they have spent a fair bit of time in the country and adapted well to the conditions."
'It was nice to get a hit against Scotland'
"There is no surprise; that they are up against us in the semi-final. They are a very strong team and I think we are as well. It is going to be a great contest," Faulkner was modesty personified during his interaction where majority were Indian scribes.
With the kind of support India have enjoyed throughout the tournament, Faulkner is apprehending that SCG might just have more people backing the defending champions instead of the home team.
"We were talking about it at dinner last night. Actually the last game we played here (during tri-series), it definitely felt like that. Obviously, the passion which the Indian fans show towards their cricket team is sensational. We are definitely expecting that on the match day."
However, Faulkner maintained that his team will keep it high-intensity during the semi-final. "I thought our intensity was quite high in the quarter-final.
So I am expecting it to be the same if not higher again in the semi-final. You are going to see two very good teams coming up against each other in a couple of days' time and it should be a very good spectacle."
Although he hasn't been sought as a batsman much in the tournament, Faulkner is "ready to go" if the need arises.
"It was nice to get a hit against Scotland, but having said that, I have spent a fair bit of time in the nets now. I feel like I am ready to go. As a batting group we are playing quite nicely at the moment," the 24-year-old Tasmanian said.
Maxwell said since the competition will be "cut-throat" a bit of sledging can be expected on the day. "It is the nature of the game, it is the semi-final. It is going to be cut throat, there are going to be words said, it is going to be a really tough contest and both teams I suppose won't be backing down,"
Faulkner made it clear. The man, who has now played 42 ODIs for Australia admitted that "nerves would play a part" in the long run.
"I think everyone is going to be nervous in their own little way and it is up to them how they want to deal with it. I think you saw a lot of nerves were on show couple of nights ago and I think that is good.
Both teams are exposed and if you don't have nerves, you have got issues," he was straightforward in his answer.
Faulkner was all praise for Starc
Faulkner feels that India has a big batting line-up and Faulkner feels that his team has the self-belief to chase down any total.
"I think you have to have that belief no matter what total you are chasing. I suppose as a batsman, it is all about your start whether you are chasing or setting a target.
"If you start well with bat or ball, more often than not, you are going to end up in a position in the last 10-15 overs when you can have a crack at chasing a big total," he said.
"Coming late in the innings, you look great when you are hitting the inning runs or being there in the end, but a lot comes from the first 10-15 overs from the openers and the top three to set a platform for your team," Faulkner explained.
Faulkner is hopeful that Mitchell Starc would show his skills and swing the ball late into the batsman at a speed of 145-150 kmph.
"I know our boys don't like facing him (Starc) in the nets because of how fast he bowls and is a major threat when is swinging the ball at 140 or 150 kmph back into the batsman which is quite tough.
That is what he has done so far in the tournament and hopefully he can do that for the semis and then hopefully in the final."
Faulkner was all praise for Starc's ability to bowl yorkers at great pace. "It is a fantastic skill that he has got and I know he spends a lot of time in the nets working on his yorker, while bowling both over and round the wicket.
So far he hasn't really missed in this tournament so it is a great bonus for us to have him firing at the moment and expecting big things come in the semi-final."