India to take on Victoria in warm-up match

India will have to contend with that when they take on Victoria in their lone pre-Test three day warm-up game on Thursday.

updated: December 20, 2007 14:25 IST
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A weak opponent and a familiar pitch is not an ideal preparation before the gruelling series against Australia, but India will have to contend with that when they take on Victoria in their lone pre-Test three day warm-up game on Thursday.

Anil Kumble's men are unlikely to meet strong rivals and the pitch at Junction Oval here is expected to stay low as it was the case back home on turfs in Kolkata, if not Bangalore, against Pakistan.

It would mean poor preparation for the tourists who have won just four of the 32 Tests in nearly six decades of visit to the Australian shores and are yet to claim a Test series win here.

India is expected to field their likely Test XI, which means that Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Kaarthick, Harbhajan Singh, Pankaj Singh and Irfan Pathan will remain on the bench.

It would be interesting to see whether Rahul Dravid comes out to open tomorrow and how fit are a few members of the side after their recent injury travails.

All eyes will be on Sachin Tendulkar and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan who missed out the final Test against Pakistan in Bangalore because of knee and ankle strain.

Vice captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, though allayed fears on his fitness ahead of the game. He too skipped the Bangalore game because of ankle strain and split webbing in his left palm.

India need not worry though as Victoria is fielding a sting less attack and a modest batting but for stand-in captain David Hussey.

Regular skipper Brad Hodge has been ruled out with an inflamed disc in his lower back which erupted during Australia's Twenty20 match against New Zealand in Perth last Tuesday.

Four years ago in a similar pre-Test game against the Indians, Hodge had hit a grinding double century.

Hussey would lead the side in Hodge's absence and at 30 years he is the most experienced bat in the line-up; having scored 8674 runs from 114 first class games at 56.32 average with 32 hundreds.

The rest of the batters in Nick Jewell, Robert Quincy and Matthew Wade have only averaged in the 20s and 30s in the first class games for Victoria this season.

Pacemen Shane Harwood and Gerard Denton were not picked up because of groin and ankle injury.

Aaron Finch and all-rounder Justin Hastings then come into the side. Hastings is a tall fast bowler and a big hitter and would be eager to prove himself against an international side.

Teams (from):

Victoria: David Hussey (capt), Aiden Blizzard, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Nick Jewell, Michael Klinger, Andrew McDonald, Bryce McGain, Robert Quincy, Peter Siddle, Matthew Wade, Allan Wise.

Indians: Anil Kumble (capt), Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Pankaj Singh.