Battered India pin hopes on young brigade

Visitors keen to reverse losing trend

The ANZ Stadium has seen some remarkable contests in its relatively short existence — like Cameron’s win over Spain to clinch their first ever Olympic gold in 2000, and England’s fairytale run to win the 2003 Rugby World Cup, defeating Australia in the final.

Now, this sophisticated venue that came into existence in 1999 as the Telstra Stadium, is set to witness a Twenty20 contest between India and Australia, the first international T20 at this venue, on Wednesday.

Definitely, a T20 match does not fall into the category of the aforementioned clashes, but the background of the morrow’s match will certainly offer it a charm of its own. India will be eager to turn their fortunes around from this match after a disastrous Test series.

It’s now a matter of pride that the Indians will have to prove that they are capable of competitive cricket on bouncy pitches. Just like the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a drop in pitch will be used in the ANZ Stadium as well, one that has been touted to have some assistance for the quick bowlers.

The perimeter of the venue is massive with the longest part of the ground from the pitch standing at 70 meters, requiring energetic legs to cover the distance and strong throwing arms. India have a clutch of youngsters in Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja, who fit into the role perfectly, and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted as much.

“We have really improved as a fielding side, especially in the ODIs. On an average out of four fielders three of them can really stop the batsmen from taking a quick single. And the opportunity of getting a batsman run out is very critical in an ODI or in T20. When it’s needed in  slog overs, they can field at the boundary without much hassle. It really helps me in the sense that I don’t have to be too worried about placing the right fielders at the right position. They do it amongst themselves. They know where they need to be at the right time. It helps me think on other things, where I can put emphasis,” Dhoni said.

The addition of a few young members will also help India to approach the T20s and one-dayers with a rather serene mind. If Sehwag and Gambhir can give India a good start then that confidence will percolate to the batsmen coming down the order, also boosting the Delhi duo’s confidence.

Dhoni added that maintaining positivity wasn’t a big issue for the team after their poor outings in the Test series. “Our one-day side looks very different from our Test side. New boys who have come in are lot more noisy, which really helps to lift the dressing-room atmosphere. They love to pull each other’s leg, which means it gets more and more lively. I don’t think maintaining positivity is very difficult,” Dhoni explained.

The Indians might be in a positive mindset, but overcoming this Australian side, ranked sixth in the ICC T20 ratings, won’t be that easy for they are a rather unknown commodity under new skipper George Bailey, who took over from Cameron White.

There are some familiar figures like Brett Lee and Brad Hogg — who has returned to the national squad at 41 riding on his good show in the Big Bash League — Ryan Harris and David Warner. But India do not have much idea about the likes of Travis Birt and Aaron Finch. Australia will also be keen to maintain the grip they had over India in the Test series, and hopefully, the visitors will be able to give a fitting response this time.

Teams (from): India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, R Vinay Kumar, Parthiv Patel, Irfan Pathan, Sachin Tendulkar, Manoj Tiwari, Rahul Sharma.

Australia: George Bailey (capt), David Warner, Daniel Christian, Xavier Doherty, Aaron Finch, Mitchell Marsh, Brett Lee, Brad Hogg, Shaun Marsh, David Hussey, Clint McKay, Matthew Wade, James Faulkner, Travis Birt.

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