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Tendulkar to play in Perth

Sachin Tendulkar, however, ruled himself out of the exhibition match against Prime Minister's XI in Canberra on Wednesday.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2004 17:26 IST

Sachin Tendulkar, who missed India's last four matches of the tri-series due to an ankle injury, on Sunday said he would return to the squad for the match against Australia in Perth on February 1.

He, however, ruled himself out of the exhibition match against Prime Minister's XI in Canberraon Wednesday.

"I would not be playing this game (against Prime Minister's XI) but I should be fit for Perth," said Tendulkar.

The batting star's announcement should come as a big relief to the Indian team management, more so to captain Sourav Ganguly who has struggled to keep the bunch going through a difficult campaign in the last week.

Tendulkar has not been seen in action since last Sunday when he made 86 against Australia hobbling on one leg after twisting his right ankle at the start of the innings.

The Little Master has gradually been bringing himself to match fitness and even had an extended nets at Adelaide yesterday while his team-mates were busy taking on Zimbabwe.

Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh -- the other two on the injured list -- should also be fit for the final leg of the gruelling tour as everyone in the team has a silent prayer on his lips -- not to go back home without the trophy in the kit.

The team was mobbed at its arrival at the Canberra airport and Laxman was the cynosure of all eyes -- a strange sight as superstars like Ganguly, Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid walked past without any hold up from a wildly cheering bunch of largely Indian fans.

Laxman obliged with an impromptu press conference which was also welcomed by the assembled media men since Australians have now declared they would not be speaking to the press at airports.

The senseless killing of former Test cricketer David Hookes has upset Australian players and are demanding extra security from Cricket Australia.

Players have expressed concerns over their vulnerability to violent attacks walking to and from nets in the practice sessions. They have also demanded extra protection when they walk to the team bus in the night after the completion of a day-night one-day international.

It is learnt players, team management and Cricket Australia recently met following which it was decided that players will no longer speak to the media at airports.

Neil Maxwell, manager of cricket stars such as Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath, said the cricket establishment needs to wake up to security aspect of cricketers.

"Steve Waugh has been an advocate of this from day one. He said it is going to take someone getting killed before the ICC wakes up to the fact that players are too easily approachable," said Maxwell.

The Indians have just two engagements remaining in the league round while Australia and Zimbabwe have three.

They have a relatively long lay off of a week before they take on Australia (February 1) and Zimbabwe (February 3) for their last two league games of the series.

Indians are not without engagement though as they meet Prime Minister's XI in the festival match at Manuka Oval here.

The PM Eleven is being led by Steve Waugh which is enough to heighten media interest but Cricket Australia will be looking forward to take a close look at Shaun Tait and Paul Roffe, the two new fast bowling hopes who are only a decent performance away from international selections.

Australia have struggled to contain the powerful Indian batting line-up and are keen to try out as many bowlers as possible before the tri-series builds to a climax.

Glenn McGrath is injured, Brad Williams or Nathan Bracken remain players of fringe potential and Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie have not been as devastating as their past records suggest.

Australia are looking for new firepower and Wednesday's match could be a help in their search, providing an intensity to a match which the Indians also do not plan to take lightly.

First Published: Jan 25, 2004 17:23 IST