Sunday Tribune

Aussies brace for India

Sehwag and Singh set to pose threat at home

- SAPA-AP in New Delhi

THE return of two of India’s most explosive batsmen poses a threat to Australia’s efforts to build on impressive recent form when the two sides meet in the latest chapter of their escalating rivalry.

Riding on the one-day form that have helped them to win 11 of their past 12 one-day games, world champion Australia have arrived determined to avenge their loss at home in last year’s tri-series to Mahendra Dhoni’s India side.

With the seven-match limited-overs series beginning today in the western city of Vadodara, Australia captain Ricky Ponting is confident of reproducin­g the form that saw his team win six of seven matches against England this year and then defend its Champions Trophy title.

“We’ve been playing consistent­ly good one-day cricket, I expect that to continue over the next couple of weeks in India,” Ponting said.

Ponting’s team, however, are missing some key players: vice-captain Michael Clarke (back), in-form batsman Callum Ferguson, wicketkeep­er Brad Haddin (finger) and seasoned pace bowler Nathan Bracken (knee).

Tim Paine, standing in for Haddin as wicketkeep­er after Australia lost the Ashes Test series in England, has shown good form with the bat, while all-rounder Shane Watson’s successive centuries in the Champions Trophy provided a big boost.

India was knocked out of the preliminar­y round in the Champions Trophy, but Ponting felt Dhoni’s side would be a different propositio­n on its home turf.

“We all know how well the Indians play in their own conditions,” Ponting said.

India’s struggling batting order have been strengthen­ed by the return of Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh from injuries, even though pace ace Zaheer Khan is yet to regain match-fitness. Sehwag recovered from shoulder injury that sidelined the opener from the Twenty20 World Cup and Champions Trophy, while Yuvraj injured a finger during practice at the Champions Trophy.

“Confrontin­g the Indian team in front of huge home crowds will be a big challenge,” said Australia coach Tim Nielsen, reminding his players not to “get too emotionall­y into it”.

Ponting said the intensity of the contests between these two teams – No 1 and 2 in ICC’s oneday rankings – had developed into a genuine rivalry.

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 ?? Pictures: AP and REUTERS ?? INDIAN team coach Gary Kirsten, right, talks to Gautam Gambhir during net practice on Friday. India will play against Australia in the first of seven one-day internatio­nals at Vadodara today. Inset: India’s captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, left, and...
Pictures: AP and REUTERS INDIAN team coach Gary Kirsten, right, talks to Gautam Gambhir during net practice on Friday. India will play against Australia in the first of seven one-day internatio­nals at Vadodara today. Inset: India’s captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, left, and...

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