Hyderabad: With Saurav Ganguly, Ricky Ponting and Nathan Bracken all set to comeback for the third ODI in the Future Cup series, a keen contest is on the cards between two World Champions at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad, on Friday.
A sporting pitch indicates India might opt for an extra batsman in southpaw Saurav Ganguly, who is likely to return subject to his fitness.
With national selectors adopting a policy of rotation, the Indian team is also mulling whether to give a chance to young Rohit Sharma, who has displayed grit and determination in the recent concluded T20 World Cup.
Meanwhile, master blaster Sachin Tendulkar is under tremendous pressure after scoring just 0, 16 in the first two ODIs. Hyderabad has proved to be a happy hunting ground for the master blaster who cracked his best performance of 186 not out against New Zealand in 1999. He also hit another century against the same team in 2003-04.
Hyderabad is also waiting to see big knocks from 'the Wall' Rahul Dravid, who cracked his best ODI score 153 in the city in the company of Sachin seven years ago. But, the crowd expectations are more on youngsters Yuvraj and Dhoni, whose heroics helped India win the T20 World Cup. It may be recalled that Yuvraj scored a ton against South Africans in an ODI here a couple of years ago.
India's major worry is its bowling, as the Aussies initial setbacks crossed the 300 mark in both the ODI's. India might opt for medium pacer R P Singh and 'drop' less effective Ramesh Powar, who conceded 50 runs in his six overs in the Bangalore match and 30 runs in five overs in Kochi without any wickets. However, pace spearhead Zaheer Khan is giving good breakthroughs scalping Adam Gilchrist's in both the ODIs.
On the otherhand Australia expects their influential skipper Ricky Ponting to return. After reaching the city on Wednesday, he went to the stadium and was at nets in the company of Ben Hilfenhaus and Adam Voges.
Later, Ponting's nets session was videographed and analysed in a team meeting. The local bowlers, who bowled for Pointing says 'the Punter' has not hit a single loose shot.
Mathew Hayden, Michael Clarke, Symonds and Brad Haddin were also in good form.
Meanwhile, left-arm pacer Nathan Bracken has joined back the Australian side. He flew in here a day before both the teams arrived. The Aussies possesses variety in bowling with right-arm fast bowlers Brett Lee, Ben Hilfenhaus, Stuart Clark, left-arm fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Bracken, left-arm chinamen Brad Hogg and Adam Voges and allrounder James Hopes.
By dismissing India for a mere 222 in Kochi, the Aussie bowlers showed their upperhand, especialy scalping Tendulkar's price wicket early in the innings twice.
Meanwhile, the curator of the ground, Gopal Rao said the newly laid pitch will offer good bounce and help medium pacers initially. But the batsmen too can afford to smile as after settling down they can also entertain the crowd with their strokes.
India: M S Dhoni (captain), Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain), Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uttappa, Irfan Pathan, Ramesh Powar, Rohit Sharma, R P Singh, Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth and Harbhajan Singh.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist (vice-captain), Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Mathew Hayden, Brad Haddin, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Adam Voges, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds.
Umpires: Steve Bucknor (WI), S L Shastri (Ind). Third Umpire: G A Pratap Kumar (Ind).
Match Referee: Chris Broad (Eng).