Do-or-die match for Team India
After being humiliated by Australia in the fifth one-day match, Team India will have to display some really good cricket in the sixth tie of the Future Cup held in Nagpur on Sunday.
Australia has taken a 3-1 lead in the seven-match series and a win on Sunday will ensure them the Future Cup, with still one match to go. For India, it will be a do or die encounter at the Vidharbha Cricket Association (VCA) ground.
The Indian batting, barring Sachin Tendulkar, collapsed like a pack of cards against a Aussie pace-battery spearheaded by Brett Lee in Vadodara. Mitchell Johnson ripped apart the Indian batting and then vice-captain Adam Gilchrist joined the party as he spanked the Indian bowlers to all parts of the ground.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni fell short of ideas. He has a last chance to save his debut series as skipper in Nagpur.
The tournament itself is an acid test for the 26-year-old Dhoni, after the way he led India to victory in the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa.
His captaincy came under attack when India lost in Kochi, Hyderabad and Vadodara.
The Indian batsmen will have to spend some more time at the crease and select their shots carefully. The batting looked pathetic in the last match. Johnson's nagging line, length and pace exposed the Indian batting's weak spots against quality fast bowling.
The onus will be on openers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. The duo failed to give the hosts a good start in Vadodara -- Ganguly departed in the very first over as he was run out after Tendulkar failed to respond to a risky single.
The two, however, scripted India's only win in Chandigarh as they added 91 runs for the opening wicket. They have to repeat their performance Sunday to give India a much-needed win.
The middle order has to perform well too. It is high time former captain Rahul Dravid found his form.
The bowlers have done fairly in the series but it will need a collective effort from them to help India make it 2-3 in Nagpur.
Harbhajan Singh and left arm spinner Murali Kartik, who has come back to the side after 20 months, posed a lot of problems for the Australians. Much will depend on this double-edged spin combination to disturb the Australians again.
Australia: 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: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/wicketkeeper), Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Dinesh Karthik, Subramiam Badrinath, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Murali Kartik, Rudra Pratap Singh, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh.
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and A.M. Saheba (India)
Third umpire: Suresh Shastri (India)
Match referee: Chris Broad (England)