India aim to finish off Australia at Kotla

Published: Tuesday, October 28, 2008, 13:12 [IST]
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KumbleNew Delhi: The days of domination are certainly over, but the Ricky Ponting-led Australian team will look to make a strong statement in the third Test, while the Indian team will continue its quest to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy when the two teams lock horns at the home team captain's favourite ground, Feroz Shah Kotla here tomorrow.

Time and again, the Indians have challenged Australia with their famed batting line up and now, with an impressive bowling brigade to compliment it; the home team would certainly consider itself at an advantageous position.

Mohali Test, where the Australians were humiliated by a record 320-run defeat, underlined that the days of domination, which went for over a decade, are over for the World Champions.

Indians, who are leading the four-Test series 1-0, have already made their intentions very clear that they would take the field tomorrow with a sole aim of wrapping up the series here itself.

The Australians could be under pressure but never, for sure, they can be considered as underdogs.

The Indian team is very much aware of it and its coach Gary Kirsten has already told his wards that the wounded Australians will come hard at them.

''Australia is a highly competitive team and I can tell you one thing that they would be well prepared for the Test,'' Kirsten told mediapersons here yesterday after the team's practice session.

The Indians have a few injury problems which, hopefully, will be resolved before the action begins.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh's toe has been under some pain, while captain Anil Kumble, who missed out the Mohali Test due to a shoulder injury, are two of the prime concerns for India.

But Kirsten said the two will feature in the playing XI and it is likely that India will bring in the same team which played the first Test at Bangalore.

Kotla specialist Kumble 'fit' for Delhi Test

But leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who had a dream debut at Mohali, will have to make way for the captain. Mishra picked up seven wickets on his debut in the last match, which also included a five-wicket haul in the first innings.

''If fit, Kumble will replace Mishra because he is the captain of the team and yes, it will Harbhajan and Kumble,'' Kirsten had said.

The Indians will have as many as three local boys in the playing XI tomorrow and all of them have been in superb form against the Australians. The openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have become accustomed to every form of the game and have carried the mantle of opening the innings in every form with solidarity.

Meanwhile, Ishant Sharma has been impressive ever since he arrived at the international scene against the very same opposition.

''He has been a great find for India. I was impressed with him the moment I saw him bowl at Perth,'' Kirsten said, while speaking about Ishant.

Ishant and Zaheer Khan have provided the Indian bowling a much needed thrust and something that was missing in the bowlers of past. With ability and pace, the duo also has the temparament which is a much needed weapon especially when you play a team like Australia.

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''I think the Indian bowlers have come of age. The team does not have to rely only on spinners as the pacers are doing a wonderful job,'' former Australian captain Steve Waugh said, while comparing the two Indian pacers with the fast bowlers of past.

The Indian batting does not give any indication of change as all the batsmen except Australia's nemisis VVS Laxman, have had runs in the series.

Laxman is yet to fire in the series and the stylish Hyderabadi batsman will look to make his Kotla outing a memorable one as the competition for a place in the Indian team is mounting with every failure.

The 38-year-old Kumble has though denied that he has not thought about his retirement, the match at Kotla could well be his last on this ground.

The leg-spinner has a fantastic record at Kotla and has claimed 55 wickets here, which also includes his unforgetable perfect 10-wicket haul against Pakistan.

Bhajji doubtful for crucial Delhi clash

However, the Australian team must be pondering about a lot of things especially after the Mohali hammering. Matthew Hayden, who has been a great force for them every time they play against India, has had a barren series so far. The left-hander has scored just 42 runs in the four innings that he has played which also includes two ducks in two matches.

But the strongly built Hayden has made his intentions clear that the third Test will prove his supremacy over the Indians and said a big score is just round the corner for him.

''Hopefully rubber the green will go my way and a big score is round the corner for Matthew Hayden,'' Hayden had said after the second day's practice session at Kotla ground.

The Australian team did not leave any stone unturned to get everything in place and legendary Indian spinner Bishan Singh Bedi was also invited to give a few lessons to their spinners - Cameron White and Jason Krejza - who have been almost ineffective in the series so far.

Stuart Clark, who did not play the second Test due to an injury, will certainly make a comeback into the side in place of speedster Peter Siddle.

Clark looked completely alright and bolwed extended spells on all the three days at practice. In the spin department, Krejza might still have to wait for his maiden Test cap as White could well be given another chance.

The leg-spinner hasn't impressed anyone in the two Tests that he has played but he received words of encouragement from Shane Warne, who said the Australian team should persisit with White.

Still it could be a toss between the two, but India would not mind any of them.

The Australian batsmen have been found wrong footed against the Indian spinners and the speedsters have also created havoc for the visitors. But the abilities which could never be questioned have now been flooded with negative responses but still an Aussie backlash can always be expected considering their stature in World Cricket.

The intense practice that the Australians have gone through in the last few days is indicative enough that the visitors want to take field well prepared.

Teams India (From): Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni (wk), Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble (cap), Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra.

Australia (From): Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting (cap), Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Cameron White, Jason Krejza.


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