India eye Aussie win

BRISBANE — Australia’s back-to-back losses have thrown the ODI tri-series open and a revitalised India would look to corner the struggling and injury-hit hosts when the two sides clash in the critical second phase of the league here on Sunday.

By (Agencies)

Published: Sun 19 Feb 2012, 12:20 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 11:45 PM

Pleasantly surprised to see themselves atop the table at the halfway stage, India are aware the arduous climb would only begin in earnest from now on.

Sri Lanka scrambled the stakes with a damning defeat of Australia in Sydney last night — the likes of which the hosts have rarely suffered — and might just be peaking at the right time in the tournament. Little separates the three teams and all could change in a matter of two games. The Gabba double-header thus assumes enormous significance for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men. India have shown their appreciation of the situation and the last couple of days have been hard work-outs for the boys at the venue.

The vexed issue of dropping one of the three openers has worked itself out with the likely absence of Virender Sehwag in the day-night encounter. Sehwag is ill at ease with his back spasm and even though he stayed around in the nets and also padded up at the fag end for a few hits, the right-hander looks a non-starter.

It would give an extension to the in-form Gautam Gambhir, not to forget yet another shot at the elusive 100th century to Sachin Tendulkar, both of whom straining at the leash to stamp themselves on the Australians who have been ruinous to their reputation this summer. Gambhir has kicked on with two brilliant near-centuries in Adelaide and has 188 runs from three matches at 62.65 average. He also has a notable strike rate of 83.55 which has made him an enviable anchor for other two teams.

The Delhi opener has allowed others to feed off his long stays at the crease. The rotation thus would have to be centred around the bowlers but it too isn’t a straightforward decision. The bouncy pitch at Gabba demands that India go with an extra medium-fast bowler at the expense of a spinner.

So far Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have been the go-to spinners for the Indians. One of them could sit out to accommodate Irfan Pathan, impressive in his first game, as Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav, not to forget Praveen Kumar, have legitimate calls to be included in the eleven.

Vinay Kumar, who has played four straight matches, could sit out to allow others a game in the middle. India, to be fair, have enhanced their one-day reputation on the present tour. A largely young side, they surely have a good grasp of one-day ethics. The bowlers have learnt to bowl to their field; the lower half knows how to stitch runs together in the final overs. The fielding is keen and eager and India thus are an all-round package, led ably and efficiently by Dhoni

Australia, meanwhile, are in a muddle. Their top order is just not functioning and there is too much on the plate for Hussey brothers—David and Mike—in the middle. Michael Clarke’s absence due to a hamstring pull couldn’t have come at a worse time for the hosts.

Ricky Ponting, who only now had begun to breathe easily after a sumptuous Test series, once again is causing derision with his utterly miserable one-day series so far. The mighty right-hander has a mere 11 runs from four innings at a 2.75 average. —

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