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HindustanTimes Mon,20 Oct 2014

Cricket Columns

Under-strength India have the potential to deliver
Steve Waugh, Agencies
September 27, 2009
First Published: 23:18 IST(27/9/2009)
Last Updated: 23:23 IST(27/9/2009)
Both Australia and India have played pretty average cricket in their opening games. The defending champions were tested severely, more by the conditions than the opposition at the Wanderers, while India went down to Pakistan at Centurion.

Australia have not had time to acclimatize, and were put in to bat in difficult conditions. But given they were pitted against an inexperienced West Indies, they should have done better.

The absence of some senior pros like Yuvraj and Sehwag cost Dhoni dear. As he mentioned in a surprisingly candid post-match interview, the bowlers had a poor day.

Pakistan, unpredictable as ever, were exceptional on Saturday. They seemed a happier unit, playing for each other. Also, the return of Mohammed Yousuf has added class and solidity to their middle order.

The absence of Sehwag and Yuvraj was crucial, but it was good to see youngsters like Virat Kohli being fielded in a pressure game. The Indians must realize that they cannot depend on the likes of Tendulkar and Dravid always, and that it’s necessary to blood new talent.

Monday's game is a must-win for India, and they do have the potential to win against Australia. However, the latter too would have learnt from their mistakes. Their bowling looked good on Saturday and I expect the batsmen will put in an improved performance as well.

The team does have a few problem areas. Shane Watson and Michael Hussey have been out of sorts, and this does make the batting a little vulnerable. They did not do well against the West Indies, so it remains to be seen how they fare against India. Both teams would be relieved it's a day-night game, which means the early morning moisture and movement would not tilt the game in one direction. India have done very well against various teams in the last 12 months, especially in one-dayers. They have the potential to do well here as well. However, if I had to pick a favourite, it would be Australia.


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