Tough target for India in Sydney

8:33 pm on 26 March 2015

Australia has set India a tough target of 329 to win in their Cricket World Cup semi-final match at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

Steven Smith raises his bat after scoring a century against India at the SCG

Steven Smith raises his bat after scoring a century against India at the SCG Photo: Photosport

Home team batsman Steven Smith hit a century as the co-hosts made a fast start towards a very decent total, followed by a late flurry of boundaries by Mitchell Johnson.

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Smith was caught hooking at deep square leg for 105 while opening batsman Aaron Finch made his half century before a catch at 81, as three quick wickets fell to put the brakes on somewhat, with Glenn Maxwell also departing for 23.

That had Australia 233 for four in the 39th over.

The co-hosts won the toss and lost opening batsman David Warner early on, caught for 12, but it looked like a benign pitch and a good choice to bat first.

The winner will face New Zealand in Sunday's final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

Both sides are unchanged for the match, which pits four-times champion Australia, the top-ranked team in one-day cricket, against title-holders India, the sport's dominant financial power.

The ground was bathed in sunshine under blue skies at the toss and early indications were, as has been predicted, that Indian fans would outnumber locals in the capacity crowd.

Some of the 'Swami Army' supporting the Indian team against Australia

Some of the 'Swami Army' supporting the Indian team against Australia Photo: Photosport

Australia was unchanged for the first time in the tournament after deciding to retain a third specialist pace bowler in Josh Hazlewood, who took four for 35 in the six-wicket quarter-final victory over Pakistan.

Despite the SCG's reputation for offering some turn for the slow bowlers, the Australian selectors decided against bringing in specialist spinner Xavier Doherty.

Australia have looked a much more polished outfit with Michael Clarke at the helm.

Australian captain Michael Clarke talks to his troops Photo: Photosport

India has remained unchanged throughout the tournament except when forced by injury to replace paceman Mohammed Shami and it retained the same team that beat Bangladesh by 109 runs in the quarter-finals.

India started its tour of Australia more than four months ago and is yet to register a win over Clarke's men since landing in Adelaide for the first test.

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