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Updated: October 30, 2009 15:41 IST

India, Australia gear up for Delhi showdown

PTI
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MS Dhoni with Australian captain Ricky Ponting.
The Hindu MS Dhoni with Australian captain Ricky Ponting.

Buoyed by their emphatic victory in the last game, a confident India will seek to keep the momentum going when go into the third cricket ODI against Australia here on Saturday, hoping to exploit a slow and low track.

With the seven-match series tied 1-1, both the teams will be keen to regain the initiative in what promises to be a thrilling floodlit contest at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground.

The resounding victory in Nagpur will no doubt serve as a huge confidence booster for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men, who came out with a brilliant all-round display to claw their way back into the series after Australia took the lead.

Barring Sachin Tendulkar, the awesome Indian batting line-up has looked solid with most of the top-order batsmen being among the runs in the first two matches.

Dhoni himself led from the front with a blistering 124 off 107 balls while Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have laid the foundation with their lusty strokeplay.

Australia’s injury woes

While the Indians looked a confident lot, the Aussies have a few problems to sort out, particularly in their bowling department with pace spearhead Brett Lee still a doubtful starter for the game.

Lee sat out of the Nagpur tie because of an elbow injury and the Australian team management will reassess his fitness before taking a final call on his inclusion in the playing eleven.

The spate of injuries to some of their key players has weakened the World Champions to some extent and a depleted bowling attack has only compounded their misery.

Wicketkeeper-bastman Tim Paine was the latest to join the casualty list with a broken finger, which has ruled him out of the entire series. Paine has been replaced by rookie Graham Manou, who is sure to make his ODI debut on Saturday.

Despite winning the first match at Vadodara by a narrow margin, the Aussies never really looked in command and Ricky Ponting would be keen to plug the loopholes before it is too late.

“It will be like starting from the scratch in Delhi.

Hopefully, we will improve in the areas where we did not do well and we will bounce back,” Ponting said.

“Ever since Glenn McGrath has moved out, the death overs have been a problem,” he said.

Indian bowlers upbeat

His counterpart Dhoni would be delighted with the performance of his team, especially the bowlers who went for a ride in the series opener.

Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar looked menacing upfront with the new ball, while Ravindra Jadeja has been a sensation in the spin department and shared the responsibility ably with Harbhajan Singh, who is going through a rough patch.

“All the bowlers did well. Ashish Nehra is at his usual impressive form, Ishant Sharma is continuing with his good show and good thing is Praveen Kumar has come up good.

Ravindra Jadeja came in late but got three crucial wickets in the last game,” Dhoni said.

To add to that, the options in the slow bowling department would be an advantage for the Indians in the low and slow Kotla strip.

The first two matches of the series have been high-scoring contests but Saturday’s game could turn out to be a rather low-scoring affair with the Kotla pitch not very conducive for strokeplay.

The recent Champions League matches have shown that scoring freely would be a tough proposition although the curator has tried his best to prepare the track for the match.

Dew will be another important factor and both the captains will have that in mind when they go out for the toss.

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