Battered India hoping for a turnaround in T20 opener
Sydney: Their reputation bruised and battered after the humiliating loss in the Test series, India will be desperate to turn their fortunes around and restore some pride in the limited overs matches, starting with the first T20 against Australia on Wednesday.
The Indians slumped to their lowest ebb in the longer version of the last week when Australia mauled the visitors by a 4-0 margin in the Test series.
The drubbing at the hands of Australia was also the current ODI world champion team`s eight straight overseas Test defeat following the series loss by identical margin in England last year.
But with some fresh legs -- Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Parthiv Patel, Ravidra Jadeja and Rahul Sharma -- joining the team for the limited overs matches, Mahendra Singh Dhoni would be hoping for lady luck to smile on him in the first of the two T20 matches on Wednesday ahead of the tri-series, featuring hosts Australia and Sri Lanka.
With India`s famed batting line-up failing miserably in the Test series, there is a scramble for early berths in opening Twenty20 match at the ANZ Stadium.
There is competition for each spot in the team, especially after the debacle in the Test series.
The opening duo of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have time and again failed to give India a good start in the Test series.
To add to it, skipper Dhoni himself has looked a pale shadow of his former self with the bat as well as his leadership qualities.
But though there is little threat to their positions in the playing eleven as of now, the trio knows it better that it is high time for them to perform or make away for youngsters like Manoj Tiwary and Parthiv Patel, who are waiting in the wings for their opportunity.
Talented Rohit Sharma is at last expected to get a match after spending the entire Test series on the sidelines. Apart from Rohit, the middle-order will have Raina, Virat Kohli and Dhoni with Ravindra Jadeja will play the role of an all-rounder.
India`s bowling department will be led by Zaheer Khan. He is expected to have Umesh Yadav and Praveen Kumar for company, even as left-arm pacer Irfan Pathan stands with an outside chance because of his batting abilities and experience of playing in Australian conditions.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is expected to spearhead the spin department in Jadeja`s company.
But all said and done, one thing that stands against India is their record in T20 format.
India lost three straight games each in the super league stage of the two consecutive T20 World Cups in England and in West Indies in 2009-10 and young batsmen were exposed big time against the short-pitched deliveries.
The Indians were all out on most occasions, despite having a galaxy of batting stas in their ranks.
But thankfully for the Indians, the present Australia T20 squad, under George Bailey, does not have menacing fast bowlers. There is neither Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus nor Ryan Harris in the team. The only one with some credentials is veteran Brett Lee, who has long retired from Test cricket.
But young James Faulkner is an unknown entity and is said to be a good left-arm fast bowling all-rounder of Tasmania.
till, Daniel Christian is highly spoken of and Clint McKay has had a few impressive performances in the recent Big Bash League (BBL).
Australia`s biggest advantage going into tomorrow`s match is that most of their players can fulfill dual roles.
Out-of-form Shaun Marsh will possibly get one last opportunity to show some spark tomorrow after his repeated faulures in the Test series, which led to his omission from Australia`s ODI yeam.
Shaun`s brother, the big-hitting Mitchell Marsh, is also expected to play tomorrow and will provide Bailey with an all-round option.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel, Rahul Sharma, Zaheer Khan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja and Manoj Tiwary.
Australia: George Bailey (capt), David Warner, Travis Birt, Daniel Christian, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, David Hussey, Brett Lee, Clint McKay, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Matthew Wade and Brad Hogg.
The match starts at 2.05 pm, IST.