Australia series to be acid test for Dhoni
Team India under skipper MS Dhoni is ready to take on the Aussies in the first ODI of the series in B'lore on Saturday.Updated: Sep 28, 2007, 21:07 IST
After being crowned the world champions in the shortest version of the game, the Indian cricket team under captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is all set to take on the mighty Australians, four times World Cup winners, in the first one-day international of the seven-match starting in Bangalore on Saturday.
The tournament will be an acid test for Dhoni, who came out with flying colours as he led a bunch of raw youngsters to victory in the recently concluded Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa.
But at home against the Australians, Dhoni, who took over the leadership mantle from Rahul Dravid, will face a tough challenge of getting the seniors and juniors together.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting has already started a psychological war before the day-night clash in Bangalore at the Chinnaswamy Stadium by saying that that the pressure will be on the home team because of the Twenty20 triumph.
And it would take a lot from Dhoni to stand tall against the challenge of the Australians. Perhaps with Sourav Ganguly around, the man who counteracted the Australians best as captain, Dhoni can learn a trick or two from the former skipper.
But it seems that Dhoni is in an advantageous position compared to his Australian counterpart.
The Australian team has been dogged by injury problems. But for Team India, barring leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, who was replaced by middle-order batsman Rohit Sharma, all the boys are fit and raring to go.
Ponting himself is a doubtful starter for the first ODI with a pulled hamstring and Brad Hodge and Brad Haddin are also suffering from niggling soreness in the thighs while fast bowler Nathan Bracken only joins the team later, having returned to Australia for the birth of his first child.
For Dhoni there are no problems as such and he wouldn't have expected a better debut than this as a captain in the one-dayers. The blend of senior and junior players will do the trick for him but how the new Indian captain marshals his resources will be crucial.
The Indian batsmen are in fine nick and the opening partnership of Ganguly and Tendulkar is all set to rock Bangalore again. Dravid, who relinquished his captaincy to concentrate on batting, will want to prove to his fans that his decision was correct.
Dhoni will have other opening combinations also at hand but it is expected that he would play it safe by relying on the tried and tested Tendulkar-Ganguly pair.
The series will also be time for redemption for all-rounder Irfan Pathan and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh. The Baroda-based medium pacer, who once took Indian cricket by storm, has been out of the ODI team since the World Cup in the Caribbean. His performance in the Twenty20 World Championship had proved that he is hungry to come back. It's no different for Harbhajan.
But all said and done, it won't be easy going for Team India as the Australians will be looking for revenge for the Twenty20 loss. Australia's Twenty20 campaign had ended with the semi-final defeat at the hands of India.
They are sure to come hard against the Indians, who have the right arsenal and the confidence to match the Australians.
Australia (from): Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist (vice-captain/ wicketkeeper), Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Matthew Hayden, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, James Hopes, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Andrew Symonds, Adam Voges.
India (from): Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/wicketkeeper), Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Ramesh Powar, Rudra Pratap Singh, Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh.