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India seek to stop Aussies

The attitude shift skipper Sourav Ganguly has brought about in Team India, today he will need all of it if India are to tame The Invincible.

india Updated: Nov 18, 2003 11:18 IST

As a second-grade student, Andy Roddick, it was said, presented autographed tennis balls to family members during Christmas saying they could be valuable some day.

It isn't known whether Sourav Ganguly ever showed such spunk but the kind of attitude shift he has brought about in Team India since taking charge in March 2000 sure is reminiscent of the kid they call A-Rod.

On Tuesday, Ganguly will need all of that if India are to tame Australia in his own backyard. Ricky Ponting's men are to cricket what Real Madrid are to football.

Like the galacticos, they seem invincible most of the time. Once in a while this seemingly well-oiled machine coughs, splutters and dies like it did last season when Madrid took in five goals at home and were subsequently stopped by Juventus from conquering Europe.

Gwalior showed that the Australians too are human but that was the only time in the TVS Cup when the world champions finished second best. Extenuating circumstances like the dew (there could be a lot of it here on Tuesday), a deteriorating wicket and losing the toss could mean the difference between winning and losing for other teams but Australia seem to take all of that in their stride.

Twice, they won batting second and thrice after making first use of the wicket. Pit that against India losing both matches when they batted second and once when Rahul Dravid called correctly and it isn't difficult to realise which team has adapted better to the conditions. Ponting mentioned his batsmen's ability to "adjust to the conditions" as one of the reasons for their never-ending success story.

India certainly aren't under any illusions about what they are up against.

Only one of their three practice sessions at the Eden Gardens was mandatory and none were under lights but Ponting didn't think much of that either. "We've played a fair amount cricket under lights they shouldn't be too different here.

We should be well-equipped," he said after training at the Eden for the last time before the summit showdown (even Monday morning's session was optional). He did mention the dew but the leit motif of his statement was that the conditions would be equal for both teams so why worry.

Even Ganguly agreed with him on this. Australia, however, would prefer batting first and nothing so far has suggested that Ganguly, whose groin strain is healing well but who will have to take a fitness test on Tuesday, would opt for anything different.

The wicket looks dry and could aid the spinners as the match goes on but if past indications are anything to go by, batsmen should have a party in the afternoon.

With the batsmen in both teams in superb form, a run feast in on the cards. With two century stands apiece, both India and Australia are capable of getting superb starts.

The peerless Sachin Tendulkar has already scored over 400 runs in this competition and Virender Sehwag, after two ducks and having scratched around in Bangalore, seems to have got into the groove in Hyderabad.

Adam Gilchrist is batting as well as he can - not many in the team would have forgotten the mauling in Bangalore - but with Hayden yet to show sustained aggression, it's advantage India on the openers' front.

Rahul Dravid has got starts and a couple of 50s, VVS Laxman has looked good and so has the skipper even though he was out of action with an abscess for one month. Only Yuvraj Singh hasn't got too many opportunities and not made capital of the ones he has.

Teams:

India (likely): Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Aavishkar Salvi, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik.

Australia (from): Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds, Michael Bevan, Michael Clarke, Andy Bichel, Ian Harvey, Brad Hogg, Brad Williams, Nathan Bracken, Michael Kasprowicz, Jimmy Maher.

Umpires: David Shepherd and A V Jayaprakash.

Third umpire: K Hariharan.

First Published: Nov 18, 2003 00:24 IST