India eye place in tri-series final

A win on Sunday will almost certainly take Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men to the title round and render their game against Sri Lanka in Hobart on Tuesday

updated: March 04, 2008 10:00 IST
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Needing to win just one more game to ensure a berth in the cricket tri-series final, India will seek to get the job done on Sunday itself as they go into their penultimate league match against Australia with the form of some key batsmen being a concern.

A win on Sunday will almost certainly take Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men to the title round and render their game against Sri Lanka in Hobart on Tuesday of only academic interest.

"We would like to seal it tomorrow and save ourselves pressure," Dhoni said as his side prepared to take on the world champions on a slow SCG track.

Australia have already secured their place in the final, collecting 22 points from six games. India, on 12 points, has a handy six-point lead over their sub-continent rivals with one round of matches to go.

Sri Lanka need to win both their remaining matches and at the same time hope that India lose both their games to go through to the final.

India is no different than others when it comes to batting woes in the low-scoring series and, in all probability, Virender Sehwag will mark a return to the playing eleven to bolster the line-up.

It would mean India discarding its new-found preference of five bowlers. It would revert to four frontline bowlers and expect the fifth bowler's quota to be shared between Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh.

Openers have been a big issue in the tri-series with the best stand of 68, so far, coming between Tendulkar and Sehwag against Sri Lanka in Brisbane in the first week of the competition. It's an alliance which needs to be revived as runs have been at premium for all three teams.

India is relieved at the return to form of Yuvraj in the last game against Sri Lanka and it remains to be seen whether he can carry the momentum in the crucial day-night encounter against the hosts.

Dhoni alone has been the consistent Indian batsman in the series and its time the top order, including the mighty Tendulkar, start pulling their weight in.

Gautam Gambhir, after a stupendous start, is falling off a bit and Rohit Sharma has a propensity to throw away his wicket when the bowling is at his mercy.

Robin Uthappa, when he got the chance, has done nothing of note.

Australia were fine without Brett Lee in the last couple of games though there is a chances that the speedster would return to the playing eleven tomorrow.

Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds are facing the heat for obvious reasons.

The Australian captain has just 64 to his name from six outings at 10.66 and has hit just six boundaries through the tournament.

Symonds has fared worse, scoring 42 runs at 8.40 and hitting a mere couple of boundaries so far.

Michael Clarke, meanwhile, has gone from strength to strength in the competition. He has 262 runs to his name from six matches at an average of 65.50 with three fifties.

He has unfailingly come to Australia's aid after the top order has caved in.

Fielding is an area where Australia is winning most of their matches and Indians would need to be at their best if they want to seal a place in the finals tomorrow.

The home bowling has shown they give nothing away in the field.

Teams (likely):

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Andrew Symonds, James Hopes, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and Nathan Bracken.

Match to start at 8.45 am IST.