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India hoping skipper?s return will lift spirits

It's back to business with the Indian team. Ganguly has returned and will be in action on Wednesday.

india Updated: Nov 11, 2003 23:25 IST

It's back to business with the Indian team. Skipper Sourav Ganguly has returned and will be seen in action when India meet Australia at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Wednesday. With Ganguly's return, several other things will be back to the way things were before — the four-bowler patent is almost certain to be resumed.

Rahul Dravid and John Wright, between them, tried several things, including having Parthiv Patel keep wickets, using three spinners at once and shuffling the batting order. It is unlikely that Ganguly will do any experiment.

At the moment, only two things are definite with the Indian side. One, of course, is that Ganguly will play. The second is that it's back to the wicketkeeping duty for Dravid. Just as well, since leading the side and keeping wickets at the same time is not something you'd want to do, not unless you are a specialist at the latter.

"I am fully fit, and there is no pain whatsoever," Ganguly said in the match-eve press conference. "I have to get back in groove, having been out of action for nearly four weeks.

"Also, we have to get the team back into the kind of form they have shown over the past year or so, when they were doing so well. We know what we have to do to qualify for the final. We will have to lift our game and ensure that we go and play (the final) in Kolkata."

There is another strong possibility, that of Ashish Nehra returning to business. He has been hovering at the fringes for a while, and was strongly carded to play in Cuttack before the three-spinner hand was dealt. "Yes, Nehra playing is a possibility," Ganguly said. "We have to assess how he is shaping up, and with the big tour of Australia coming up, we must know how he is doing. We cannot take him there without knowing how he will do."

Bangalore should also see home boy Anil Kumble return, after he had missed out the last game due to his father's demise. As things stand, indications are that Patel, Hemang Badani, Ajit Agarkar and Murali Kartik will sit this one out.

As for the Australians, their target here would be to make things as difficult for India as possible to get to the final. They know well that irrespective of the result here, it would be in Hyderabad on November 15 that the other finalist would be decided. All they would hope here is that they deny India any points.

After all, no team ever wants to take on the hosts at Eden Gardens. The only alteration likely is that Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden will be back at the top of the batting line-up.

India and New Zealand are identically placed at nine points each, though the Kiwis have played one match more. India can get a maximum of six points here to take them to 15. But then, even New Zealand can garner six points in Hyderabad, in which case it will go down to the run-rate.

The match here then, is more about morale and prestige, and of course to cater to the outside possibility that the game in Hyderabad is somehow not completed. In which case, whatever points India gain here will be of tremendous importance.

First Published: Nov 11, 2003 23:25 IST