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Tendulkar, Sehwag likely to miss Australia match

The dashing Indian openers may be kept out of the match so as to fully recover from their injuries.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2004 16:43 IST

Star openers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag were likely to miss the action as India take on Australia in the triangular series match here on Thursday, hoping to keep the psychological edge over the world champions.

While Tendulkar and Sehwag may be kept out of the match so as to fully recover from their niggling injuries, India's bowling attack received a boost with paceman Ajit Agarkar declared fit to resume duty.

Tendulkar suffered an ankle injury during his knock of 86 against Australia in Brisbane on Sunday and missed yesterday's match against Zimbabwe while Sehwag, down with a shoulder sprain, last played against Zimbabwe at Hobart on January 14.

With their tails up after beating Australia in their own den for the first time in 12 years, captain Sourav Ganguly is demanding "complete intensity" from his team in what promises to be a pulsating day-night game at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

"We two are probably headed for the finals but we are really keen to do well against them in the final two league games. We feel it would count in the finals," Ganguly said.

Ganguly, by the looks of it, is relishing the prospect of taking on Australia and his adrenalin level has not been down despite some very intense games against the world champions in the past couple of months.

The Indians flew in to Sydney this morning, a bit sheepish on the Rahul Dravid affair, which might have been judged wrongly by match referee Clive Lloyd, but there is little to believe the Indian vice-captain was trying to take recourse to unfair practice against a side which has held little threat in the competition.

Ganguly has had a close look at his reserve bench and has a fair idea of their capabilities. He liked what he saw from Irfan Pathan in the last few weeks and Laxmipathy Balaji is quickly growing in confidence.

All-rounder Rohan Gavaskar, Hemang Badani and wicket keeper Parthiv Patel, who failed to utilise a good chance yesterday, also have the potential though it is different with Railway players Murali Kartik and Sanjay Bangar. Ganguly is struggling to make up his mind on how best to use the two in this series.

The absence of Tendulkar and Sehwag would be welcome news to Australia and their bowlers who have been at the receiving end all through the summer. Brett Lee sure would not miss them, that is if he plays at all in front of his home crowd.

Lee might still get another game despite being clobbered by the Indians since Australia would hate not to support an express fast bowler who was terrorising the batsmen world over on their behalf.

The absence of the two seasoned openers might just perk up Ganguly who relishes the one-day arena and has appeared keen in all the games he has played. He has had a few starts in this series and would really like to get a big score at Sydney.

It also affords an opportunity for youngsters like Yuvraj Singh, man of the match yesterday, Badani, Gavaskar and Patel to shoulder the burden and let themselves be counted.

The hosts will miss the aggro of Matthew Hayden at the start of the innings as they have become used to relying on the burly Queenslander to give them slapdash starts.

Hayden has been "rested" which probably is true to the word since the left-hander had made a brilliant hundred against the Indians in the last encounter at Gabba.

It gives an opportunity for Simon Katich to express himself in the one-day arena. He has really begun to flower in the last month or so, batting brilliantly in the Sydney Test and carrying on the form in the domestic season games thereafter.

Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn are two other batsmen who would like to shrug off a somewhat lean patch and reduce the burden from the likes of Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke and Michael Bevan who remain a splendid last line of defence for the world champions.

Australia does not have much bowling options but they have refused to look at Brad Hogg and the option he brings with his unorthodox spin.

The match promises to be a blazing affair as the tickets have been sold out and enquiries were being made by the hopefuls in order to catch the action live.

The absence of Tendulkar and Hayden notwithstanding, India and Australia have promised much this summer. Tomorrow should be no different.

Teams (from):

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist, Damien Martyn, Simon Katich, Michael Bevan, Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke, Andy Bichel, Brett Lee, Brad Hogg, Brad Williams and Jason Gillespie.

India: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Parthiv Patel, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Hemang Badani, Rohan Gavaskar, Anil Kumble, Ajit Agarkar, Laxmipathy Balaji, Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan.

First Published: Jan 21, 2004 12:50 IST