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Stars looking to outshine Aussies in Super Test

Dravid and Sehwag will be keen to make amends as World XI seek to restore their pride against the Aussies.

india Updated: Oct 13, 2005 18:16 IST

India's Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag will be keen to make amends for the their batting failures as World XI seek to restore their pride when they challenge the might of Australia in the six-day Super Test beginningon Friday.

After their humiliating 3-0 whitewash in the one-day matches, World XI cricketers have a lot to prove to their opposition and fans alike and the Test provides them an opportunity to do so.

With an array of glittering names in their side like West Indies' Brian Lara, Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan and South Africa's Jacques Kallis, the World XI appear to be favourites on paper but the Aussies were quite capable of turning the table on any fancied opponent.

The star-studded World X1 were expected to rock the Aussies in the one-dayers but eventually cut a sorry figure, going down by huge margins to the hosts, who have sprung back from the Ashes debacle with a vengeance.

The world's top cricketers failed to apply themselves in the shorter version of the game and also looked unable to gel as a team, the number of run outs being a pointer to the lack of understanding among players from diverse countries.

But they have vowed to fight back in the Test with performances worthy of their staggering reputation. Helping their cause would be the newcomers to the Test side -- the likes of captain Graeme Smith, Pakistan's Inzamam-ul Haq, who is a replacement for the originally named Sachin Tendulkar and England quick Steve Harmison.

The World X1 have dropped Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar from the team after his rather indifferent performance in the one-day series.

Australia would be bolstered by the inclusion of spin king Shane Warne and that too on a spin-friendly track at the majestic Sydney Cricket Ground.

Giving Warne, the world's highest wicket taker, company in the spin department would be Stuart McGill.

And giving Warne competition will be his Sri Lankan rival Muralitharan who last played a Test in Australia in 1995 when he was no-balled for throwing by umpire Darrel Hair.

Murali has, however, put that nightmare firmly behind him and is relishing the prospect of renewing the rivalry with Warne.

Skipper Smith also got going right away after taking the reins of the battered team and although he did not promise miracles, he was confident of a better show from his players.

"I am not going to try to build a team," he said, "It's about getting the roles right, getting the intensity right and when guys have got a bat or ball in hand they're at the right level they need to be," said the 24-year-old South African.

As for the players themselves, they are determined to make amends for their flop show and prove what they are capable of.

Dravid's reputation as the dependable middle-order bat took quite some beating and the other Indian in the Test squad -- Sehwag -- has also been left with some introspection to do after the debacle in the one-day series which was played in the indoor Docklands Stadium in Melbourne.

Lara, with scores of 0, 5 and 0, has already put his hands up, saying he would put up an improved show as he felt more comfortable in the Test arena.

"I think the guys are all geared up. I think we understood where we all went wrong in Melbourne and we are working at it. We've got a couple of new faces, a new captain, and I think it is more of your natural ability comes out in the Test arena rather than the one-day arena," Lara said.

"So we are looking forward to the encounter, we still know that we are playing against the best team in the world," he said.

The prospect of top batsmen squaring up to spin czars on a turning wicket would be one of the highlights of the encounter.

The Indians, who traditionally play spin better, might as well capitalise on the situation and belt some runs to prove they are no pushovers when it comes to playing the best team in the world.

Teams (From):

World XI: Graeme Smith (capt), Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid (vice-capt), Inzamam-ul Haq, Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock, Mark Boucher, Steve Harmison, Shoaib Akhtar, Muttiah Muralitharan, Andrew Flintoff, Daniel Vettori.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Brad Hodge, Michael Clarke, Adam Gilchrist, Simon Katich, Glenn McGrath, Shane Watson, Shane Warne, Stuart McGill, Brett Lee.

First Published: Oct 13, 2005 18:16 IST