Kangaroos face a humdinger in Sachin's den

Published: Saturday, November 1, 2003, 1:52 [IST]
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Mumbai: Australia's second-string bowling attack faces a daunting test of nerves when the world champions clash with India in a key One-day clash in Sachin Tendulkar's home city of Mumbai on Saturday. A full house of 45,000 at the Wankhede stadium will be in attendance to lend vociferous support to the local hero, the world's leading One-day batsman with a record 12,367 runs and 35 centuries.

Seven of those hundreds have come against Australia, the last one in the previous tri-series match against Ricky Ponting's men at Gwalior on Sunday that fired India to a 37-run win. Australia's task is made tougher by the absence of five frontline bowlers -- pacemen Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie, and spinners Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill due to injuries or suspension. The back-up attack of Nathan Bracken, Brad Williams and Andy Bichel routed New Zealand for 97 in Faridabad on Wednesday, but the Australians are under no illusion Saturday's match will be as easy. "I can't say we're 100 per cent sure on a plan that we've got to get him out," Australian vice-captain Adam Gilchrist said of the Indian champion.

"It's a matter of trying to counter his dominance. Sachin has a tremendous record against everyone, but he certainly does produce his best for us. We try to look at that in a positive way because we still seem to have a great deal of success as a team against him.We know that Sachin can make hundreds against us and we can still win games or win tournaments where he's involved," Gilchrist said. Tendulkar and his teammates have a lot to play for on Saturday. Victory will not only put the hosts in sight for the tri-series final at Calcutta on November 18, but also propel India to third place behind Australia and South Africa in the official International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings.

India, who are currently ranked fourth, will however slip to sixth place behind England, Pakistan and the West Indies, if they lose Saturday's match, according to an ICC release. India, who lost the World Cup final against Australia in March, are geared for the new challenge. "This match will be tough, you can never take Australia lightly," said stand-in captain Rahul Dravid, leading India in the absence of the injured Sourav Ganguly. "We may have beaten them in Gwalior, but this is a new day, a new game. Australia bounced back strongly by toying with New Zealand on Wednesday and they will come out strongly against us. But we are backing ourselves to win and have the advantage of playing at home. We are ready for the challenge."

AFP Copyright AFP 2001

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