India look to prey on wounded Australia

Gambhir returns; time for youngsters to step up

India look to prey on wounded Australia


With the series tied 2-2 after four matches of the seven-match series, both India and Australia might be tempted to approach the remaining games as a fresh three-match series, adding that extra bit of edge to the proceedings.
Indians have been splendid one moment and pedestrian the other, struggling for consistency. Injuries have gripped the Australian team like an epidemic but the world champions, though not firing from all cylinders, have done well to match the firepower of the Indians.

But now the series has reached its business end, the two protagonists will perforce have to put the happenings of the previous four matches behind them and move forward, learning from the mistakes.

Youngsters in the Indian line-up will need to step it up. The likes of Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli have so far showed only glimpses of their talent in the series, allowing the Aussies to keep pace with India even in their depleted state.
If the youngsters need any lesson on how to build an innings, they need not look beyond their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The Jharkhand player dished out a splendid hundred in the second one-dayer in Nagpur, laying the foundations of a big Indian victory. The way Dhoni accelerated towards the latter part of his knock was a study class in the art of one-day innings building and using the fielding restrictions in Power Plays. The skipper adapted to the sluggish Feroze Shah Kotla pitch and produced another gem, this time an unbeaten half-century, to power India to a smooth win in the third ODI.
Once Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh failed to fire, India struggled to chase a competitive, but not impossible target, in Mohali. The absence of in-form Gautam Gambhir too was a reason for India’s struggle, and the Delhi left-hander will in all likelihood return to the line-up on the morrow.

The presence of Gambhir at the top order is sure to lend some extra muscle to the batting that looked bereft of energy once Virender Sehwag departed after a cameo.
The Indian bowlers too have not been on top of their game including Harbhajan Singh, the most experienced campaigner in the side. Ishant Sharma is yet to find the right length on Indian pitches, and the Delhi paceman barring a few economical spells, looked totally innocuous, a far cry from the intimidating bowler that he was in Australia some time back.

Ravindra Jadeja’s left-arm spin carried more sting than the duo and it was not surprising to see Harbhajan bowling a few additional overs at nets on Wednesday.
The Australian batsmen, especially Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, also need to be credited for negating two of the most potent bowlers in the Indian line-up. Ponting was at ease against his two tormentors – Harbhajan and Ishant – and the Tasmanian has been able to score off them consistently. It was not the explosive Ponting, but a rather measured Ponting who was on view and the approach has helped him here. Hussey too has embarked on a similar route with a lot of benefits.
India have played two matches at this venue, against Australia in 2007 and against South Africa in 2005-06, without any success. But India under Dhoni and Ponting’s Australia are not known to cling onto the past and that forward-looking attitude will add plenty of excitement.


Teams (from):
India: MS Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar, Amit Mishra, Sudeep Tyagi.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Hussey, Cameron White, Shane Watson, Graham Manou, Shaun Marsh, Adam Voges, Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Jon Holland, James Hopes, Clinton McKay.
Umpires: Asoka De Silva, Shavir Tarapore;  
Third umpire: Sanjay Hazare;
Match referee: Chris Broad.

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