India will need a Bhuwan to see them through

Published: Sunday, March 26, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Andrew Flintoff will be eyeing a real life revenge of Captain Russell's reel life defeat plotted by Aamir Khan in the Ashutosh Gowariker direction, while his counterpart Rahul Dravid will like to script a repeat as the first ODI of the ''Lagaan series'' kicks off here on Tuesday.

From a drawn Test series, Flintoff walked away with the moral victory and his head held at a colossal 6'4'' high and it was not for nothing that coach Duncan Fletcher rates the performance next to their Ashes win.

England had huge odds and it seemed a Quit India Movement of another kind as the Ashes heroes deserted their team.

Ashley Giles did not arrive at all; regular skipper Michael Vaughan hobbled out on his troubled knee and was joined in the home-bound plane by hors de combat Simon Jones; vice captain Marcus Trescothick returned owing to 'personal reasons' and then Steve Harmison's shin injury brought his tryst with India to an abrupt end. And still England squared the series in the most emphatic manner.

Thanks to the injuries, England now has a problem of plenty while the hosts, on their part, have plenty of problems.

Forced to put up a makeshift squad, England threw in the greenhorns who overnight turned performers and the think-tank now has a wide base of choice.

In contrast, Team India woke up to find injury is not discriminating anymore and the first casualty is its opening pair.

Instead of being in Kotla, Sachin Tendulkar is in London, waiting to go under the surgeon's knife with a tear in his right shoulder, while his former clone and Delhi's own son of the soil Virender Sehwag seems falling prey to a jinx.

It was a throat infection and viral fever that kept Sehwag off his home turf during the Test match against Sri Lanka and this time, a back spasm seems hatching a conspiring. Sehwag also struggles to shed that extra girth around her fluctuating waistline and he would have to clear a fitness test today to make it to the final XI.

While that is likely to open the door for local left-hander Gautam Gambhir, the southpaw's score of five runs in yesterday's warm-up match makes it difficult to bank on him.

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