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Big three to join forces again as India play resurgent Lanka

Sehwag to join Gambhir and Sachin to boost top-order; Parthiv steps in for Dhoni. Amol Karhadkar reports. Match reckoner | Brisbane record

india Updated: Feb 21, 2012 01:48 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
Amol Karhadkar,Brisbane,MS Dhoni

A day after their bowlers wilted in searing heat and their batsmen were then ripped apart by the Australian bowlers, most of the Indian players understandably preferred to stay in their hotel rooms ahead of Tuesday's crucial CB Series tie against Sri Lanka.

In the evening, skipper MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin and Parthiv Patel went to their former Chennai Super Kings team mate Matthew Hayden's house for dinner.

Late in the day, they received the good news that both Virender Sehwag, who missed the last two games due to back spasm, and Sachin Tendulkar, whose MRI scan showed there was no damage to his forehead after being hit on the helmet by a Brett Lee bouncer, should be available.

Sehwag's availability will still depend on "how he wakes up in the morning", according to the team spokesperson. If he plays, he will lead the side with skipper MS Dhoni suspended after the team was penalised for slow over-rate against Australia.

With Dhoni emerging as one of only two consistent performers with the bat over the last two weeks, the team management will be forced to include all the three senior top order batsmen - Gautam Gambhir, Tendulkar and Sehwag - for the first time in the tri-series.

After all, the Men in Blue - seemingly confused over whether to give importance to ending the tour on a high or preparing for the 2015 World Cup - can't take the risk of exposing a totally out-of-form batting line-up.

"We want to get a bit of both. You want the youngsters to play games, but of course we need to get into the finals first. Then it's a three-match series. In the finals you have to be consistent in two games to win the tournament," Dhoni said after the 110-run mauling by Australia. "But you want to see these youngsters, they will be coming here again, and maybe for the next World Cup also. They should know how to play in these situations or conditions against a bowling attack that is world-class."

While India seemed to be busy tackling the mini battles within the dressing room, Mahela Jayawardene's team are looking to maintain their recent momentum. Just when the tri-series appeared lop-sided, Sri Lanka first tied the game against India in Adelaide last week and then stunned Australia in Sydney, that too with a bonus point, before arriving for the crucial face-off.

Will Sehwag's sergeants be able to stop the Lankan onslaught?

First Published: Feb 21, 2012 00:15 IST