Aussies upbeat of must-win game against India

Published: Saturday, October 28, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Mohali:Favourites Australia hope to revel in the pressure of sudden-death play when they clash with under-performing hosts India in a key Champions Trophy match.

The winner of the day-night international here on Sunday will take the last semi-final spot alongside South Africa, New Zealand and defending champions the West Indies.

The loser will have an early ride home, but Australian captain Ricky Ponting believes the desperate situation will hold his team in good stead ahead of the World Cup in the Caribbean next March.

"We know we are going to find ourselves facing a sudden-death scenario at some stage during the World Cup, so the more we can test ourselves under those circumstances, the better off we will be," said Ponting.

"We have managed to play really well in bigger games and this is going to be a very big game, having to defeat India on home soil to keep alive our chances to win the Champions Trophy for the first time."

Australia, the undisputed world champions in both forms of the game, have never qualified for the final of the biennial Champions Trophy despite winning back-to-back World Cup titles in 1999 and 2003.

The Aussies find themselves in a must-win after being stunned by the West Indies in their opening match in Mumbai before bouncing back to whip old foes England in Jaipur on Oct 21.

"We have to play better than India in their own backyard," said Ponting. "We have had an unusually long break of eight days between matches, but that means we should be better prepared for this game."

Ponting underplayed fears about the excessive evening dew on the ground which makes bowling second a hazardous task even though South Africa thrashed Pakistan by 124 runs here on Friday.

"A lot of teams could have been psyched out by the pitches and conditions at different times," he said, adding he had noted how New Zealand beat Pakistan here on Wednesday.

"We took a close look at that game and we know this ground is going to get very wet and very dewy. We are prepared for that."

Australia were more worried about the fitness of young batsman Michael Clarke, who has not trained for a week due to fever and chest infection.

But all-rounder Shane Watson has recovered fully from a bout of severe gastritis that saw him rushed to hospital on Tuesday with chest pains.

Indian captain Rahul Dravid, meanwhile, urged his team to start performing after crashing to their sixth defeat in seven matches against Brian Lara's West Indians in Ahmedabad on Thursday.

"It's not nice losing, we have to perform," said Dravid. "We need to play well in the critical moments of the game. We need people to stand up and be counted.

"I concede we have not done well because the batsmen have not performed. But this is their chance to come good.

"You can plan tactics and have a strategy but at the end of the day cricket matches are won by performing on the field. We need to do that."

India received a scare when middle-order batsman Yuvraj Singh injured his knee during training and was uncertain of taking the field on Sunday.

"The good thing he has some time to recover," said Dravid. "If he is fit, he will play. But we have two other batsmen, Mohammad Kaif and Dinesh Mongia, waiting in the wings."

The Teams:

India: R Dravid (Capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, M Kaif, Suresh Raina, M Dhoni (wk), Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh, Ramesh Powar, Munaf Patel, R P Singh, and Dinesh Mongia.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (Capt), Adam Gilchrist (wk), Andrew Symonds, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Damien Martyn, Dan Cullen, Glenn McGrath, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Nathan Bracken, Shane Watson, Simon Katich and Mitchell Johnson.


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