Nagpur:Bolstered by the return of dashing Yuvraj Singh, India would look to wrest the initiative when they go into the second cricket one-dayer against Australia here on Wednesday with the visitors being hit hard by injuries to three key players.
The home team sorely missed left-handed Yuvraj's explosive batting in the middle overs as well as his left-arm slow bowling since he was forced out of cricket after sustaining a finger injury in South Africa before the Champions Trophy.
The hosts will also seek to exploit the injury-induced absence of Australian pacers Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson as well as all-rounder James Hopes who have been ruled out of the day-nigh encounter.
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Down 0-1 in the seven-match rubber following their narrow four-run defeat in Vadodara on Sunday, the hosts would be keen to put an end to their inconsistent run in the 50-over format since their short tour of the West Indies in June-July.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men have won only five out of a dozen matches they had played from the series in the Caribbean, losing an equal number while two ties have ended in no result.
More than their inconsistency, a loss on Wednesday would put them in trouble as they will have to win four out of the remaining five matches to win the series.
The home team were outplayed by Australia in Vadodara but with the visitors' pace department severely depleted due to unavailability of Lee and Johnson, besides all-rounder Hopes, due to injuries, Dhoni's men will be fancying their chances.
But for that to happen, the Indian top-order batting, that failed to click in Vadodara, needs to buck up while their bowlers, especially off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, will have to improve a lot.
The availability of Yuvraj, who missed the first ODI, would enormously lift India's hopes of restoring parity as he is capable of scoring at a fast clip that will ease the burden on the other middle order batsmen, especially Dhoni.
With a strike rate of close to 90, Yuvraj, whose last ODI innings was 56 not out off 41 balls against Sri Lanka, provides the major thrust in the middle overs when the ball becomes a bit soft and, with him back, the Indian batting wears a much different look.
He's expected to come into the side at the expense of either Suresh Raina, who flopped with the bat at Vadodara, or Ravindra Jadeja, who bowled very well in the first ODI but failed with the bat.
On the plus side for the home team in bowling was the performance of Ishant Sharma who, after a couple of nervous overs, settled down to show the rhythm with which be burst on the international scene spectacularly in 2007-08.
Australia, on the other hand, are a severely depleted side with three players ruled out. Moises Henriques has been named as reserve as cover for James Hopes whose injury is more serious than those of Lee (mild right elbow strain) and Johnson (left ankle inversion strain).
The visitors will have to test their bench strength tomorrow as Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger, who represented Victoria in the Champions League Twenty20, are certain to be called up.
Opener Shaun Marsh or rookie Jon Holland are in the running for Hopes replacement.
The visitors have come for the series without Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin and Nathan Bracken and the latest injuries to other key players have only added to their difficulties.
However, they would be encouraged by the tight bowling of Nathan Hauritz in Vadodara which was a big plus for the visitors who would be hoping for a repeat show from the off spinner here.
The Australians have also had not put any foot wrong in their batting with the top-order firing in Vadodara.
Captain Ricky Ponting, who made 74 in his well-known fashion, and vice captain Michael Hussey, who was there till close to the end of the innings making a superb 73 that won him the man of the match award, especially looked good.
Indian bowlers have a hard task to do in curtailing this duo and to make matters intriguing would be the dew factor that might come into play for the team that bowls second at the VCA stadium in Jamtha that?s to host its first ODI.
The venue made its international debut by hosting the last Test of the India-Australia rubber last year.
A capacity crowd of around 40,000 is expected for the first day/night match in this Orange City, that would be a far cry from the dismal attendance for the Test in November, 2008.
To minimise the problem created to the side which bowls second, the organisers have decided to spray some chemicals which they said would reduce dew by around 40 per cent.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Hussey, Doug Bollinger, Nathan Hauritz, Jon Holland, Ben Hilfenhaus, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Peter Siddle, Adam Voges, Shane Watson and Cameron White.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar, Amit Mishra, Sudeep Tyagi, Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja.
Hours of play: 2:30 pm to 6 pm; 6:40 pm till close.