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The stage is set for an explosive contest

Such is the schedule of international cricket that just a day after the Champions League is over, the India-Australia one-day series begins. And, if anything, this series will give us the answer to whether one-day cricket is dying or not.

india Updated: Oct 25, 2009 01:07 IST

Such is the schedule of international cricket that just a day after the Champions League is over, the India-Australia one-day series begins. And, if anything, this series will give us the answer to whether one-day cricket is dying or not.

The Champions League saw a mixed response and, since it was the first time for such a concept, it may well take a bit of time for allegiances to be formed and fan following increased.

The inability of the Indian Premier League franchises to make it to the semifinals certainly would have affected the spectator response but the semis and the final had a good turnout, which augurs well for the future.

The 50-over format is a country versus country contest and, though the Champions Trophy played just before the Champions League had a tepid following, this one between two of the top teams in the world with loads of charismatic players will give a clearer picture of the popularity of the format.

The Australian skipper has gone on record saying that there is no such thing as a revenge series because results of the previous series cannot be erased by the latest one and winning it will hardly change that.

Having said that, there is no doubt he and his team would want to win by as big a margin as possible simply to reassure the Australian cricket-loving public that what happened in England in the Test series was more of an aberration and that they are still the top team in the world.

The manner in which they won the one-day series against England right after the Ashes loss and then went on to beat all comers in the ICC Champions Trophy does bear out that they are still the team to beat.

There are two contenders to the throne, South Africa and India, and the latter has its chance to show that their talent matches their ambition.

That none of the IPL franchises went into the knockout stage will be a blessing in disguise for the Indians as not only have they got the chance to attend to any niggles, they have also got an opportunity to get together for a few days before the series begins.

Team bonding in a country with different languages and traditions is never easy and the one sure way to ensure that there are no chances of finger pointing, is to start winning.

On home grounds, India have the advantage alright but they are playing a team that is high on confidence too and is extremely resourceful and have one of the greatest players in the world as their leader.

It should be a cracker of a series.

PMG