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India's 'fab five' eye glory in Australia

cricket Updated: Dec 15, 2007 11:16 IST
Sanjay Rajan
Sanjay Rajan
Reuters
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A quintet of India's golden generation of cricketers have a final tilt at glory in Australia when the team embark on a difficult tour next week.

The four-match series could be the last test tour of Australia for batting greats Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly and Vangipurappu Laxman, as well as leg spinner Anil Kumble, and they are intent on clinching their country's first series win on the game's toughest terrain.

India have come close to winning a series on the testing pitches of Australia twice --- in 1986, when the series ended 0-0, and a remarkable one-all draw in 2003-04 when they went 1-0 up in Adelaide.

"The last time out we won a test match but were not able to win the series...the last match (Sydney) was a draw," Laxman told Reuters.

"This time we all are keen to go out there with the single-minded ambition of winning the series.

"Doing well in Australia is the most satisfying moment for any cricketer...the ultimate one.

NEXT TOUR

"It'll be satisfying for all of us if we can contribute in the series win. I'm sure all of us are looking to achieve that," said the stylish middle-order batsman.

Skipper Kumble, who took 24 wickets on the previous tour, is 37 while Dravid, who scored 619 runs on that tour, will turn 35 in January.

Ganguly, captain then, is 35 and Tendulkar is 34 while Laxman is the youngest among the 'fab five' at 33. The next tour in 2011 is surely too far away for them.

This tour begins with a three-day match against Victoria from Thursday, with the first test starting on Dec. 26.

India clinched their first test series victory in England for 21 years in August, a year after they had won their first test series victory in the Caribbean in 35 years.

This month India recorded their first test series victory against Pakistan at home since 1979-80, which saw almost all of their batsmen strike form.

RECORD STREAK

"It's extremely important for anyone going to Australia to be confident about himself. So it's good when you are among runs. It helps," said Laxman.

"It's good that we won the series against Pakistan after these years. The confidence of the boys is amazing at the moment," added Laxman, whose greatest moment came in 2001 when he produced an epic 281 at Kolkata to spark a comeback 2-1 home-series win over Australia.

The defeat snapped the Steve Waugh-led Australians' winning streak of 16 tests, a record Ricky Ponting's side will look to upstage in the upcoming series after their recent victories over Sri Lanka took their tally to 14.

"They've got match-winning bowlers," Laxman said of the new-look Australian attack following the retirement of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, both of whom had missed the 2003-04 series.

"(Shaun) Tait or (Mitchell Johnson), the way (Brett) Lee's bowling, or for that matter Stuart Clark... It'll be a huge challenge facing these guys."

India, on the other hand, are taking two inexperienced bowlers in Ishant Sharma and the uncapped Pankaj Singh in a five-man pace attack that has been hit by injuries.

"They are potentially very good...if they can bowl to their potential it will be an interesting sight," said Laxman.