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Yuvraj's form worrying

The Punjab southpaw may slip into oblivion with a string of poor scores on the tour Down Under.
By Ashish Shukla | PTI, Canberra
UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2008 12:38 AM IST

With their young pacemen doing a remarkable job, a confident India will square-up against Sri Lanka in the cricket tri-series one-dayer in Canberra on Tuesday with the form of Yuvraj Singh continuing to be a worrying factor.

Yuvraj, regarded as a one-day specialist, has been struggling to find peak form ever since he landed in Australia and the
Indians will be hoping that the dashing batsman rediscovers his touch quickly.

The five-wicket win against the Australians in Melbourne on February 10 will serve as a huge morale-booster for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his young brigade who will now seek to consolidate their position on the points table by putting it across the islanders in the first day game of the tri-series.

The Indians were currently on top of the points table with eight points from three matches, while Australia were close behind with seven points from three matches. Sri Lanka were at the bottom of the table with two points from as many matches.

The two sides have so far been adopted completely opposite strategies in the tournament. While the Indians have played an aggressive brand of cricket, the Lankans have been quite tentative in their approach.

The difference between the two sides was vividly evident when Sri Lanka chose to hang back against Australia in Sydney whereas Indians looked Australians in the eye at the MCG and the latter blinked. The Indians bat deep and have a varied bowling attack attack and their eagerness in the field has been a revelation.

Their batting, despite stutters in the middle, is invariably revived by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the latter half and tricky situations are easily overcome.

Sri Lanka's two main strike bowlers, Chaminda Vaas and Muthiah Muralitharan, can be accurate but what the team needs is the fire power to blast the opposition out.

Their batting was awful in Sydney when they collapsed in a heap for 128 runs but they would be encouraged by the sight of the pitch Manuka Oval here which is flatter and more suited to batsmen.

The conditions are likely to remain the same through the length of the match and it could well be a game between the batting sluggers of the two sides.

Sri Lanka desperately needs its prolific opener Sanath Jayasuriya to fire for he invariably holds the key to good totals for his side. Sri Lanka does not bat that deep so it's essential for the marauding left-hander to come good for his side.

Much of Sri Lanka's successes in recent times, including their progress to final of the 2007 World Cup, was built around their bowlers restricting the opposition to manageable levels rather than their batsmen chasing huge totals.

Murali was the key to this plan but the master bowler needs early wickets from his seamers to pile the pressure on the rest.

His contest with Sachin Tendulkar is likely to be the highlight and it certainly is drawing crowd to the ground which isn't big but gives the spectators an immediate feel of the action in the middle.

This is only the second one-day international ever played in Canberra and the build-up so far has been extremely enthusiastic.

India's only worry for the moment appears to be the form of its' vice-captain Yuvraj Singh. The dasher from Punjab is threatening to slip into oblivion with his run of successively poor scores on the tour. Tests or one-dayers, Yuvraj hasn't fired a bit.

So far he is enjoying a long rope of luck and his poor scores have still not raised questions over his presence in the eleven. But one or two more poor outings and Yuvraj could well be cooling his heels on the bench. It's as much a concern to him as it is to Indian cricket given his stature in one-day cricket.

Teams (likely):

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (Capt), Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Kumara Sangakkara, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapudegera, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Muthiah Muralitharan, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Ishan Amerasinghe.

India: Mahindra Singh Dhoni (Capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth.

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