Buoyant India face depleted Australia

Published: Thursday, September 27, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Bangalore: Fresh from the Twenty-20 World Cup triumph, M S Dhoni led Team India will take on world champions Australia in a day-night ODI match here before a sell-out crowd at Chinnaswami Stadium on Saturday.

Leading the team for the first time in a seven-match ODI series at home, a confident Dhoni said the team would get additional strength from the big three - Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Saurav Ganguly - besides spinner Harbhajan Singh.

However, after their semifinal loss to India in Twenty20 World Cup, the Aussies are aiming for a victory, banking on their past performance in India and high success rate in the ODIs.

The Australian team has suffered a set back as the visitors are dogged by injuries.

Captian Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey and Shane Watson are unlikely to play in first of seven-match ODI series due to injuries.

While fast bowler Shaun Tait has been excluded from the squad due to injury, another speedster Nathan Bracken would join the squad later as he is in Australia, celebrating the birth of his first child.

Team India's new ODI captain said ''We will be playing at home after three months and we are confident and excited to face Australia. The return of senior players - Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, will immensely strengthen the team and I can also look forward for their support''.

The Indian captain is also happy with the return of Harbhajan Singh to ODIs and said he would look to his deputy Yuvraj Singh, who is in dazzling form in the Twenty20 world cup, for solid support.

The Aussies who had won the last three World Cups in this format, are confident of putting it across India. Skipper Ponting said the team would 'impose' on the Indians and 'hopefully' win the series.

''The Twenty20 loss is behind us and we are looking for a series win here. India will be under pressure as they are now the World Champions in Twenty20. However, the one-day game is very different vis- a-vis the 'slam bang' T20 and we are confident of a series win,'' he said

Australia's vice captain Adam Gilchrist also tried to shift the pressure on Team India saying the home team is now in a 'new zone' as the number one team in Twenty20 version and pressure would be tremendous playing in front of home crowd.

Whether the Aussies could deploy a psychological warfare against Dhoni is to be seen as the new Indian captain proved to be a cool character and soak up the pressure admirably. During testing times in the Twenty20 finals against Pakistan, the Indian skipper remained calm and egged his team mates to deliver their best.

''Pressure will not affect me wherever I play and I want my team to feel the same. It is a game and we believe in performing to the best of our ability. One should not be too perturbed with a loss or go too high when the team wins,'' Dhoni remarked.

Missing from Australia's Caribbean World Cup-winning squad are batsman Michael Hussey, fast bowler Shaun Tait and all-rounder Shane Watson.

Paceman Nathan Bracken returned home from South Africa on compassionate leave to be with his wife as she prepares to give birth to their first child. He may figure in the series at some stage so a replacement has not been named.

Adam Voges was added to the injury-hit squad as cover for Ponting, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, while Brad Haddin replaced Hussey. All-rounder James Hopes stands in for Watson.

Australia may not be at full strength but have the players to rise to the occasion, a trait which helped them win the World Cup for a record third successive time in the Caribbean earlier this year.

The tourists boast explosive batsmen in Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds, who are capable of demoralising the Indian attack with some big hitting. Their fast bowling still looks formidable with the presence of Brett Lee and Michell Johnson.

But they will run into the very strong Indian batting line up now bolstered by the presence of the three 'big guns'. Though batting remained the strength of India, bowlers always have performed admirably.

The return of Zaheer Khan, who did not go to Twenty20 World Cup, and the new found confidence of R P Singh, who excelled with the ball in the Twenty20 world cup and aggressive S Sreesanth can create trouble to the Aussie batsmen. the return of Harbhajan Singh bolsters the spin department.

The Chinnaswamy stadium has been a favourite haunting ground for Indians who have won nine out of 14 matches they have played so far.

Against Australia, they have won one match and losing the other in the two matches they have played so far.

So far India has played 84 one dayers against the Aussies winning 28 of them and losing 51, while five matches have tied.


India: M S Dhoni (capt, wk), Yuvraj Singh (vice-capt), Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Irfan Pathan, Ramesh Powar, R P Singh, Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth and Harbhajan Singh.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Adam Gilchrist (vice-capt, wk), Matthew Hayden, Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds.

Match Officials: Umpires: Steve Bucknor (WI) and Suresh Shastri (Ind). Thirrd umpire: A Saheba (Ind).  Match Refree: Chris Broad (Eng).


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