Dhoni's men brace up for Australia

Even before the euphoria of their Twenty20 World Cup triumph has settled down, India go into the first match of a high-voltage ODI series against Australia

updated: September 29, 2007 14:02 IST
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Even before the euphoria of their Twenty20 World Cup triumph has settled down, India go into the first match of a high-voltage one-day series against Australia on Saturday with both the champion teams talking tough and promising to fight fire with fire.

The off-field mindgames have set the tone for an enthralling seven-match series which will be a test of character for India's new captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Australia is still smarting from the 15-run semifinal defeat to India in the Twenty20 World Cup and they have revenge on their mind was made obvious by skipper Ricky Ponting, who challenged the hosts to do an encore in the series.

Ponting, who is a doubtful starter for the opening match because of an injury, has also sparked off a debate by claiming that only his side could be called world champion as it had the ODI and Test title to its credit.

The outspoken Aussie's comments did not gone down too well with the Indian camp and flamboyant pacer S Sreesanth and Robin Uthappa reacted sharply to Ponting's assertions.

The war of words has only added more spice to the series, which was already a much-anticipated affair.

Brimming with confidence and on a high after the grand reception they recieved from adoring fans for their Twenty20 triumph, the Indians would be aiming to carry the momentum and take the early advantage.

A sold-out crowd of 55,000 would make sure that Dhoni's young side gets deafening suppport at the M Chinnaswamy stadium as they look to continue their dream run.

With the return of the senior trio of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, the youthful Indian team will also have its share of experience.

But Ponting's side is no less determined and would be aiming to settle a few scores.

The 32-year-old Australian has already stated that his side was not too worried about the trio's return as it knew the strengths and weaknesses of the senior threesome.

Although Ponting is in serious doubt for the series opener due to a hamstring strain, the Aussies have asserted that they have their plans ready to tackle the Indians.

Vice-captain Adam Gilchrist, who will lead the side in Ponting's absence, acknowledged that the Men in Blue were brilliant in their twenty20 campaign but was quick to add that 50-over was a different ball-game altogether.

The stumper said while the Aussies were old hands in dealing with the pressures of being world champions, the Indians would find it hard to live up to the hightened expectations of a passionate home crowd.

"India is number one in the Twenty20 format, there is no denying that. The expectation that comes with that is pretty immense," he said.