Pride at stake for Indians

Dhonis men desperately need a win ahead of Lanka Test series


Very cheeky!: Australian skipper Ricky Ponting has a bit of fun during Tuesday’s training session at the DY Patil stadium in Mumbai. PTI

After a narrow defeat in Hyderabad, the Indians were expected to make a strong comeback in Guwahati, but the hosts churned out a foggy performance to surrender the series, and it was a show not suited to a team eager to grab the number one status in one-day rankings.

There was no verve or purpose in their approach in the sixth one-dayer, and the fate of the match was decided once the Indian scorecard read 27 for five inside the first 10 overs. On the other hand, the Australians, ravaged by injuries to key players in the series, were determined to win the series. That attitude reflected in their approach and even when they trailed 1-2, the Antipodeans did not lose self-belief.

Much has been said about India’s fast travel towards the number one spot, but the Australians showed them what the number one side in the world can do, what it takes to achieve that honour and how the prestigious position can be preserved for long time.

The Australian show was a lesson for India, a reminder that dreams and ambitions have to be bolstered by consistent performances. Now, the Indians will get one last chance in this series to tell Australia that the series defeat will not hamper their charge towards the number one spot or their quest for consistent excellence.

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the members of the think-tank will be tempted to give an opportunity to players like Amit Mishra and Sudip Tyagi, who have warmed benches in the previous games. However, a clear picture will emerge only on the morrow, and it also remains to be seen whether Sachin Tendulkar will figure in the eleven for a game that has only academic interest.

It is also an opportunity for Virender Sehwag to end a rather modest series with a big score on a pitch that has few demons on it. The Delhiite’s feared willow has so far resembled a drenched cannon, and the Indians will be eager to see him firing with a series against Sri Lanka starting in a few days’ time.

A confident and flowing Sehwag is important for India’s chances in any form of the game, and the team management will hoping the dasher will start a turnaround in the morrow’s game.

His city-mate Gautam Gambhir too faces a similar situation. The southpaw has faded after hitting two fifties in the first two matches, and he perforce has to come up with a strong show to keep his rhythm going. For Yuvraj Singh also, the first international match at the DY Patil stadium offers a chance to polish some areas and come up with a fine show ahead of the Lanka series.

But all this depends on the mercy of the elements as persistent rain hit Mumbai once the Australians finished their training session. Perhaps, luck favoured them there as well. The Indians had cancel their session, and remained at the hotel.


Teams (from):

India: MS Dhoni (capt), 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 (capt), Michael Hussey, Cameron White, Graham Manou, Shaun Marsh, Adam Voges, Doug Bollinger, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Jon Holland, Andrew McDonald, Burt Cockley, Clinton McKay.

Umpires: Asoka De Silva (Sri Lanka) and Amish Saheba. Third umpire: Sanjay Hazare. Match referee: Chris Broad (England).

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