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Old 10-24-2009, 03:05 PM
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Default India's batsmen pad up for fired up Lee

Vadodara: India and Australia resume their cricketing rivalry as they go into the first one-dayer here on Sunday with the injury-hit hosts fully aware that a series triumph in the seven-match rubber would catapult them to the No. 1 spot.

The Indians will also be keen to make amends for their Champions Trophy debacle as they take on the world champions in what promises to be a thrilling contest of nerve and s****s.

Though flamboyant Virender Sehwag has returned to bolster the Indian top-order, Yuvraj Singh is unlikely to take the field for the series-opener at the Reliance Stadium.

Australia are in super form having clinched the Champions Trophy title, which followed an impressive 6-1 thrashing of England while the Indians have not quite lived upto expectations in recent times.

The hosts were knocked out of the Champions Trophy at the league stage where they could manage just one win.

India have done well in the last couple of years and would take inspiration from the fact that they had beaten Australia in their own den when they clashed last in a one-day series.

But India have a less-than-impressive one-day record in bilateral series against Australia at home, having won seven and lost 12 of their 23 encounters over the years.

It will, therefore, be a sort of revenge series for both teams as before India's victory in Australia, the visitors had outclassed the hosts 4-2 in their last best-of-seven contest in this country two years ago.

Sachin Tendulkar's form is crucial to India's fortune. He was instrumental with an unbeaten ton and a score of 91 during India's historic triumph in the VB Series last year.

With a line-up of Tendulkar, Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina and Dhoni, the home team's batting is their strength.

Ponting has already sounded wary about the strength of India's batting line-up led by Tendulkar and the fit-again Virender Sehwag at the top by calling it "formidable".

Bowling is a big concern for India after a lacklustre performance in the Twenty20 World Cup as well as the Champions Trophy in South Africa.
Ishant Sharma, who has struggled to recapture the sort of rhythm and speed with which he rattled even a great batsman like Ponting on India's last visit to Australia, is under pressure.

The bowling attack has been re-arranged with the inclusion of Munaf Patel for RP Singh to support the in-form Ashish Nehra and Ishant. Praveen Kumar and Sudeep Tyagi are the other two pacers in the running.

The spin department, which would hold the key in the middle overs, is spearheaded by off-spinner Harbhajan Singh who needs to come up with a better performance than his haul of three wickets in seven matches in the previous series between these two teams to make an impact.

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