The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Wet welcome for Indians in Melbourne
- Brisbane theme ‘Never Have A Backward Step’ for third Test too

Melbourne: With this being the festive season, Victoria’s capital hasn’t looked better. Yet, with the elements threatening to play spoiler, those intending to have a ball over the next week or so aren’t the only ones keeping fingers crossed. The cricket fraternity is in much the same mode.

Indeed, rain greeted Team India’s arrival from Hobart on Monday afternoon and the weather remained depressing till late into the evening. Of course, being 1-0 up, the Indians have less to worry — still, they are primed for the third Test, at the revered MCG from Friday.

Expectedly, the running about must now be done by Australia and, predictably, they have recalled speed merchant Brett Lee. The New South Welshman, who hasn’t played international cricket for over two months owing to injury (plus corrective surgery), has taken Jason Gillespie’s place in the XII. Come Friday and he will be in the XI.

Brad Williams, injured during the second Test (Adelaide), is fit. He has, therefore, kept his berth in the squad.

“Brett is an established Test player and has demonstrated that he is back to full fitness... The Pura Cup matches (versus Victoria and Tasmania) have been the ideal preparation for his comeback...” is what chief selector Trevor Hohns had to say about the 27-year-old.

Incidentally, Lee’s Test debut was at the MCG itself, during the 1999-2000 tour by India. In fact, it was quite sensational as he grabbed five for 47 in the first innings.

[Speaking in Sydney, after the Tasmania game, Lee emphasised he has been bowling as fast as ever. “From what the slips have told me and how I felt myself, you know when you’re bowling quick... You don’t need a speed gun...” Looking ahead, after match figures of six for 191 (from 50-plus overs), he observed: “Because Steve Waugh deserves it, we really want to make sure he does go out on a great note... Hopefully, we can come to Sydney 1-1 and (also) take out the last Test...”

Significantly, Lee acknowledged there will be “extra pressure,” but made the point about “pressure is largely something you put on yourself...” Additionally, he said: “If I can go out there and keep smiling and really enjoy my cricket, then I’ll be at my best. I’m so when I’m not short on enjoyment...” Not surprisingly, nothing was given away on tactics.]

“The selection is on expected lines... We’ve had Lee in our sights while preparing for the third Test... By his own admission, he will be under pressure in what undoubtedly is a big game,” Indian captain Sourav Ganguly told The Telegraph.

The Indians, by the way, are set to effect one change from the XI which won in Adelaide by four wickets. As of now, Irfan Pathan will have to make way for Zaheer Khan, who has recovered from a (left) hamstring injury. Yet, there are whispers that the axe could fall on Ashish Nehra...

After a day off, the Indians will train on Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Sourav and Co. have again decided to retain the theme picked for the first Test (Brisbane) — Never Have A Backward Step. “It has worked, so there’s no need to look for another one,” informed one of the seniors.

The Indians’ proposed meeting here — a follow-up, really — with hot-shot sport psychologist Sandy Gordon, though, has been scrapped. Now, the next session will probably be in Perth (Gordon’s home turf), during the latter half of the tri-series.

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