It's do or die for India against Australia

India brace up for another colossal challenge as they take on defending champions Australia in their second group match of the Champions Trophy on Monday.

updated: September 28, 2009 10:04 IST
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Faced with a do-or-die scenario after the opening loss to Pakistan, India brace up for another colossal challenge as they take on holders Australia with a five-strong bowling attack in their second Champions Trophy here on Monday.

The 54-run loss to Pakistan last night has not just exposed the frailties of India's bowling and batting but has also put them in danger of crashing out of the event in case they lose on Monday.

The injury-hit team is up against an opponent which came into the event after mauling England 6-1 in an ODI series.

But the world champions looked a bit rusty, surviving quite a few nervous moments against a rag-tag West Indies in their opening 50-run win on Saturday.


That, however, can hardly be of any comfort for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men.

Ripped apart by Mohammad Yousuf and Shoaib Malik on Saturday night, the Indian bowling is in for a overhaul and Dhoni has made it clear that he would go with five bowlers.

"It sure gets tough with the batsmen if you play an extra bowler but then it's one and the same thing if bowlers go for major runs. It again brings the pressure on batsmen. So in this case the batsmen would have to take responsibility," Dhoni said on the eve of the crucial match.

Though Dhoni did not reveal his favoured bowling line-up, Harbhajan Singh is expected to retain his spot and leg-spinner Amit Mishra may also be called for duty.

By the evidence so far, good spinners are a must on the slowish track at Centurion. Sri Lankan Ajantha Mendis did a star turn against South Africa in the tour opener and Saeed Ajmal was similarly impressive on Saturday night.

Another factor that can work in Mishra's favour is his impressive record against Australia. Against the world champions, he won India a Test match in Mohali, taking a fiver on his debut.

Going by the hints dropped by Dhoni, it looks that Yusuf Pathan could lose his place in Sunday's clash.

"Yusuf has loads of talent and he has been dominating at the domestic and IPL level. But he hasn't translated it in international level. That's a worry," Dhoni said.

Indian seam bowlers were a liability at the Centurion with the trio of Ashish Nehra, Ishant Sharma and RP Singh conceding 153 runs from their 27 overs.

This would necessitate some readjustment of the pace attack as well and it means there is a possibility that Abhishek Nayar, who has turned out in two one-dayers for India without coming to bat or bowl, might just get a place in the playing eleven.

Nayar's strength is his length and the strip at Centurion is also likely to assist him. He is no slouch with the bat.

However, including both Mishra and Nayar in the side is easier said than done.

India: MS Dhoni (Captain), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Virat Kohli, Praveen Kumar, Amit Mishra, Abhishek Nayar, Ashish Nehra, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Ishant Sharma, RP Singh.

Australia: Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Callum Ferguson, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Hopes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Tim Paine, Peter Siddle, Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Cameron White, Brad Haddin, Doug Bollinger.

Match starts at 6 pm IST.