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Target: Aussie whitewash

cricket Updated: Oct 23, 2010 23:56 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
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On Saturday morning, it rained so hard for an hour that both teams wondered if a repeat of Kochi was in the offing. Some Australia players used the enforced indoors time to hit the hotel gym, others sharpened their Tweeting skills while some whipped out their portable Playstations to get some sort of contest going. The Indians, who were scheduled to train in the morning, were up early, waiting to go to practice.

Eventually, the skies did clear in the afternoon, and the two teams practiced. The session was a chance to get outdoors, but limited to throwdowns, knocking and some gentle bowling from the spinners as the surface was too slippery for an all-out net session.

The reason India's players were so restless, was that they knew fully well that this would perhaps be the only chance of completing a clean sweep against Australia. The once-mighty Australians are no longer the force they used to be in Tests, and the ODI team has several key players resting, but still, a clean sweep is a clean sweep.

It gives you bragging rights that have traditionally belonged only to the Australians, and though the boot was on the other foot, Mahendra Singh Dhoni refused to kick. While he may not have personal experience of Glenn McGrath predicting (often correctly) that Australia would blank out the opposition 5-0 or 3-0, Dhoni certainly would have heard those remarks.

“Even when they would have made a statement before the start of a series, you try to ignore it because you can't control what other people say,” said Dhoni. “People talk a lot about mind games but as India cricketers we focus on the things we need to do rather than thinking about the opponent. We take care of the comfort of our players and see what is important for us.”

What's important for India, at the moment, is deciding just who they put on the park if the rain stays away. Shikhar Dhawan was given a chance at the top of the order in Vizag, and lasted only two balls, but it would be unfair on the young man to dump him after just one chance. Saurabh Tiwary, the other debutant, fared better, but by the time he came in to bat, the game had all but been won, and he too will be hopeful of getting a proper crack at international cricket. If the team decides to stick by these two, Rohit Sharma would have gone the whole series without getting a go, but being such a truncated affair, that might be the best option, given that New Zealand are scheduled to play five ODIs in November-December and several senior players are set to take rest then.

Australia's problem is the opposite in that skipper Michael Clarke has just 12 players to choose from in a squad reduced after Mike Hussey and Doug Bollinger returned home.

The tables, it seems, are well and truly turned, and India eye history, if the weather permits.