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Team India hope for a fresh start

Brisbane: India’s young guns will be keen to make amends for the pathetic batting display in Melbourne as they take on hosts Australia in the opening match of the tri-series here on Sunday.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men have to quickly acclimatise to conditions and get into the one-day groove. Some of the batsmen have joined the squad only for the Twenty20 and ODI series, and will now be subjected to a test of skill against Brett Lee and company on a traditionally quick Gabba track.

Sachin Tendulkar’s return will strengthen the batting line-up as he has been in very good form right through the Test series. The champion batsman will be keen to carry the momentum into the shorter version as well.

It appears that Dinesh Karthik will have to make way. Virender Sehwag will open the innings along with Sachin. Gautam Gambhir will come in at No.3. There is also a possibility that Suresh Raina could replace Rohit Sharma.

The Indians did not have their team meeting on Saturday because of the travel schedule. That will now be held on Sunday morning.

There was no nets, though the Indians wanted to go through the motions on arrival. The visitors were more disappointed because they couldn’t have a look at the Gabba wicket.

A few of the shots the youngsters played at the MCG — where India were shot out for a paltry 74 — suited some village bumpkins more than the trustees who hold the baton for India’s future.

A silver lining for the Indians could be their bowling which usually thrives in helpful conditions.

Munaf Patel, along with Manoj Tiwary, landed in Brisbane on Saturday and could be expected to join Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma as India’s three-pronged pace attack. Irfan Pathan as an allrounder and offie Harbhajan make it a sharp attack.

Munaf hasn’t bowled in Australian conditions, but there is a school of thought that feels that he should be drafted straightaway into the attack.

India need their top batsmen to fire and it implies that Sachin, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Dhoni must come to the party. If they don’t, Australia would surely squeeze the life out of them and the conditions at Gabba could suit them to the hilt.

The wicket, despite having slowed down a bit over the years, is still one of the livelier tracks and the humidity owing to the inclement weather is only going to add sting in the tails.

It rained considerably in Brisbane on Saturday and more thunderstorms are predicted for Sunday. The accompanying humidity will be to the liking of the Australians.

Although five pacemen are listed in the 13-member Australian squad, only one — between Mitchell Johnson and Ashley Noffke — would get a call-up to partner Lee and Nathan Bracken, who are a formidable pair with the new ball in the shorter version of the game.

In a last minute development, the selectors added Noffke and Adam Voges to the squad.

 

TEAMS

India (likely): Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina/Rohit Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Sreesanth, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel/Praveen Kumar.

Australia (from): Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin, James Hopes, Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken, Mitchell Johnson, Ashley Noffke, Adam Voges.

Match starts: 8.45 am (IST).

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