Spotlight back on cricket
After Sydney row, the spotlight is back on cricket but the Indians have their tasks cut out as they seek to stop Aussies.cricket Updated: Jan 15, 2008 16:36 IST
After ten days of acrimony following the controversial Sydney Test, both India and Australia have vowed to play the game in the true spirit as they go into the third cricket Test on Wednesday with the visitors determined to stop the home team from clinching a world record 17th consecutive Test win.
A reconciliation meeting between the two captains has helped to ease the tension between the two teams after the unsavoury incidents in the Sydney Test very nearly derailed the tour.
The spotlight will now be back on cricket but the Indians have their tasks cut out as they seek to halt the Australian juggernaut on a bouncy WACA track, regarded as the fastest pitch in the world.
The Indians have decided to include opener Virender Sehwag, who marked his return to form with a blistering century against ACT XI in a practice game, in place of an out-of-form Yuvraj Singh.
With Sehwag coming back into the team, Rahul Dravid, who had donned the openers role in the first two Tests, will return to his customary no. 3 slot while VVS Laxman will be back at No 6 position.
The Indians may also leave out Harbhajan Singh, who finds himself at the centre of a race row, as the WACA pitch would favour the fast bowlers. Paceman Irfan Pathan is likely to take Harbhajan's place in the team.
The in-form Sourav Ganguly had been down with fever for the last few days but the team management is hopeful that the elegant left-hander will be fit for the crucial Test which India desperately needs to win to stay afloat in the series.
The Australians, leading the series 2-0, will be without the services of their towering opener Mathew Hayden, who has not recovered from a hamstring injury. Chris Rogers, touted to be a highly talented opener, will take his place at the top of the order.
The home team has also opted to go in with a all-pace attack with Shaun Tait coming in place of Brad Hogg, hoping to capitalise on the conditions at WACA.
Indian captain Anil Kumble stressed the need to get a good start for the batsmen in the first innings and said his team had the batting depth to post a big total on the board.
"It's important we make a good beginning in the first innings. It's about getting the runs, we have the quality and it's important we come back and keep the series alive by winning the remaining two Tests under the belt," Kumble said.
"Sure there is bounce and pace for the bowlers but we have the quality and experience. It does take some time to get used to this sort of pitch but it's more mental than in the middle," he said. Kumble said the batting order would be altered to accommodate Sehwag in the team.
"Sehwag would come in. It would be a regular batting order, the quality of Rahul at number three again. It would mean shifting the batting order a bit but that's been for a long time," Kumble said.
Ricky Ponting said they have few plans to tackle the devastating Sehwag at the top of the order. "We all in the last few weeks have thought about what they could do with their team. Sehwag is a very dangerous player, we have played against him and know what his strength and weaknesses are. We have plans to keep him under wraps. "He probably would take a bit pressure off Dravid who could bat at number three."
Ponting who faced a lot of criticism for the team's conduct during the Sydney Test has promised to ensure that mistakes were not repeated.
"There has been lot of talk about the way the game was played and there was some truth to that, a lot of it was blown out of proportion.
"We had really a good talk as a team a couple of days ago, minor issues that we can brush up from the last Test. Ponting said there was no bad blood between the two team and the rest of the series will be played in true spirit. "I can only go by the word of Anil who said there was not and I said the same thing," he said.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Chris Rogers, Phil Jacques, Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson.
India: Anil Kumble (captain) Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Irfan Pathan, RP Singh and Ishant Sharma.
Umpires: Billy Bowden (NZ), Asad Rauf (Pak) Third umpire: Bruce Oxenford Match referee: Mike Procter
Hours of play (IST): 8 am to 10 am; 10.40 to 12.40 pm and 1 pm till 3 pm.