| Sourav Ganguly during training in Chandigarh on Sunday, the eve of the fourth ODI against Australia. (AFP) Related report, statistics on Page 18
Chandigarh: It’s now or never for Team India. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men will have to win Monday’s match if they are to harbour any hopes in the Future Cup.
Trailing 0-2 in the seven-match series, India need a cracking performance in the fourth one-day International here on Monday to stay in the series which has been dominated by Australia.
Given their form and approach, the ICC World Twenty20 champions are certainly not the favourites for the Sector 16 Stadium battle. A lot depends on the resilience of the youth and the temperament of the Big Three — Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly.
The hosts may go into the match with three changes from the XI that played in Hyderabad. Sourav Ganguly, who didn’t play the first three matches owing to an injured hamstring, is set to replace Gautam Gambhir who suffered a groin injury during the nets on Sunday.
“Gauti (Gambhir) slipped and injured his groin,” said Robin Uthappa, who addressed the media instead of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. “He would undergo an MRI. We are awaiting the result.”
Neither Dhoni nor vice-captain Yuvraj Singh bothered to attend the press conference. Cricket manager Lalchand Rajput was also absent.
Paceman Rudra Pratap Singh is all set to replace Sreesanth. If Railways spinner Murali Kartik gets into the XI, he will do so at the cost of a batsman.
With Ganguly back, Indians can expect a solid start, something that has eluded them throughout the series. He, along with Tendulkar, displayed class and character in England recently, a series India lost narrowly.
It is discouraging to see that India are once again heavily dependent on their ageing stars. The bench strength is a matter of concern. The case is completely different with Australia, whose younger players look ready to take over the mantle.
In the first two one-dayers, the Aussies were without their talismanic captain and star batsman Ricky Ponting, yet conjured up a 300-plus score. So confident were the visitors that they did not miss the successful Brad Haddin in the match at Hyderabad.
Ponting said Nathan Bracken is set to return to the side. “He is a good player with good one-day record but hasn’t played so far. He should return,” said the Aussie captain but didn’t specify whom he would be replacing.
To say it is the quality of cricket that has been making all the difference would be too harsh on the hosts but so far they haven’t done much to dispel the notion. Except for Yuvraj Singh, whose lightning knock in Hyderabad was hugely entertaining, no other Indian batsman has shown the ability to stand up to the strong challenge thrown in by the determined Aussies.
To add to their woes, India have come a cropper in bowling and fielding, too, something Uthappa didn’t agree.
“It is unfair to say we have sloppy fielding,” he said. “Only a few reports say so. We are working on it. Things would be better now.”
Cricket returns to this venue after a gap of 15 years. A town that bore stars such as Kapil Dev, Ashok Malhotra, Chetan Sharma, Yograj Singh, Dinesh Mongia, will obviously pray for a regal show from Yuvraj who has produced some sensational batting of late.
Can India motivate themselves and stop the determined Australians' Only a team effort would see the home team through as Australia promise to raise their game a notch higher every time they take the field. The winners, either way, happens to be the spectators, getting to watch some quality cricket.
India (from): Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Murali Kartik, Harbhajan Singh Rudra Pratap Singh, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth.
Australia (from): Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Matthew Hayden, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, James Hopes, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Andrew Symonds and Adam Voges.
Umpires: Steve Bucknor and Suresh Shastri. TV: G.A. Pratapkumar.
Match Referee: Chris Broad.
Match starts: 9am.