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India look to carry on good work
- TRI-SERIES - Ponting down with stomach bug, hopes to recover before today’s opening match

Melbourne: Having proved a point in the Test series, India would look to carry their good form in the one-dayers and also settle some scores with Australia when the two sides meet in the tri-series day-night opener here on Friday.

Australia had defeated India in the 2003 World Cup final and then in a tri-series final at home. Last year, the Indians have been outclassed in three of the four matches the two sides played.

But the momentum has shifted dramatically in India’s favour in the last few weeks and Australia, struggling with the form of their bowlers, have an added worry on the count of Ricky Ponting.

The Australian captain is down with a stomach bug which has led to the selectors delaying the announcement of the 12 for the game.

However, Ponting remained upbeat about his prospects on playing the match. “I feel a bit better today than I was Wednesday, I just spent the whole day in bed Wednesday,” he said.

“I have had a pretty lazy day so far Thursday, probably I will not do too much training but just try and recover as well as I can and make sure I am right for Friday morning.”

Ponting’s absence, if it so happens, will leave a big hole at the top of the order but Australia have enough one-day specialists to plug the gap in the shorter version of the game.

Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke and Michael Bevan provide great depth to Australian batting and are capable of playing long innings, as well as shore up the bowling with their varied styles.

Australia’s bowling is gearing up for another bout with the Indian batsmen who have been in marauding form this summer.

The top-order is proven one with Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly providing the thrust and Rahul Dravid holding the innings in the middle.

The presence of V.V.S. Laxman adds another dimension to the formidable line-up as he has time and again proved his stranglehold on Australian bowling.

India’s bowling line-up is far from settled but it seems three medium-pacers and a spinner is what Sourav is looking as a bowling unit.

“It (bowling attack) depends on what kind of track we see Friday. If we find grass, we would not think about the two-spinner option,” Sourav said.

Sourav said Dravid would be keeping wickets while Sehwag will open the innings with Tendulkar.

For achieving his goals, Sourav may repose faith in Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan and Ashish Nehra while Anil Kumble picks himself on account of brilliant bowling in the Test series.

Two of the four one-day specialists flown in for the series — Yuvraj Singh and Hemang Badani — are also likely to figure in the starting line-up.

Asked about the possibility of inclusion of Rohan Gavaskar in the team Sourav said he was “in contention as 15 others are for the game”.

Rohan, who was drafted into the one-day squad after Mohammed Kaif was ruled out because of an injury, has been attracting a lot of media attention here. “He (Rohan) plays for the same state side as me and has handled the pressure (of being the son of a legend) well. He knows he cannot be a Sunil Gavaskar. He knows the pressure is going to be on him but he wants to lead his normal life and go out and enjoy himself,” Sourav said.

Australia’s bowling attack is far from decided but Brett Lee, despite his poor Test form, is certain to retain his slot. Andrew Bichel too should come in as well as Ian Harvey who has gained reputation as a one-day specialist.

Both sides look tired from the exertions of the Test series but Ponting asserted they would lift themselves for the triangular series, also involving Zimbabwe.

“The one-day specialists inject a little bit new life into it and I would certainly be asking them to do that here as well,” Ponting said.

TEAMS

India(from): Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Hemang Badani, Sanjay Bangar, Rohan Gavaskar, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Ashish Nehra, Anil Kumble, Murali Kartik, Laxmipathy Balaji.

Australia (from): Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Michael Clarke, Michael Bevan, Andrew Symonds, Brett Lee, Brad Hogg, Ian Harvey, Andrew Bichel, Brad Williams, Brad Hogg.

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