With the war of words between the sides, the stage is set for a thrilling conclusion to the last triangular one-day series when the finals get underway with a clash between arch rivals Australia and India here on Sunday (tomorrow).
It has been a bitter campaign between the sides, especially since the second Test in Sydney in early January, but the Indians can gain revenge for their 2-1 loss in the Test series by upsetting the home side in the best-of-three finals.
The tri-series concept will be scrapped at the end of this tournament and victory would give Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men evidence to back their claims that they are the challenger to Australia’s dominance of world cricket.
There will be no shortage of motivation for the two sides, after all the ill feeling between the sides over the last two months.The bad blood first surfaced during the second Test, when Harbhajan Singh copped a three-match suspension for allegedly racially abusing Andrew Symonds, a suspension overturned at an International Cricket Council appeal hearing.
This week tensions exploded again, with Ishant Sharma fined for a verbal exchange with Symonds and the Indians countering with a complaint about provocative behaviour by the Australians.
Matthew Hayden then called Harbhajan an “obnoxious weed” on radio and the Indian spinner responded by saying the big opener was one of the least liked players in world cricket.
While plenty of words have been exchanged, the Indians notched just one win over the home side in their four qualifying matches and have just one victory from their last 10 one-day games against the Australians.
However, they have taken confidence out of their narrow loss to Australia at their last meeting, also in Sydney, on Sunday.Set a mammoth 318 to win, India lost by just 18 runs despite a top order collapse.
Encouragingly for India, several of their most important batsmen appear to be hitting their straps at the right time.Star batsman Sachin Tendulkar produced his first meaningful innings of the tournament in India’s final qualifying game against Sri Lanka on Tuesday, belting 63 from just 54 balls in an ominous sign ahead of the finals.
After a terrible summer with the bat, the enigmatic Yuvraj Singh has finally shown signs of his best form with brisk knocks of 76 and 36 in India’s last two matches against Sri Lanka.Gautam Gambhir has been in superb form, with 113 and an unbeaten 63 in his last two innings, while Robin Uthappa showed his potential with a half-century against Australia last Sunday.
With Dhoni in top form with the bat throughout the series, the Indian batting has the potential to make the finals very interesting. Speaking after his team’s win over Sri Lanka on Tuesday, Dhoni said he believed his side was peaking for the finals.
However, Australia will also fancy their chances as they attempt to send retiring duo Adam Gilchrist and Brad Hogg off in winning style. Dhoni noted that Australian captain Ricky Ponting was ready to make a big impact, having finally burst out of a form slump with a commanding century at the SCG last Sunday.
Throughout the series, Australia’s seam bowlers have shown they were capable of defending just about any total, with Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark and all-rounder James Hopes all performing with distinction.
But India has its own trump cards with the new ball in teenage rising star Sharma and swing bowler Irfan Pathan. Although the fiery Shanth Sreesanth has been out of form, Praveen Kumar stepped up with four wickets in the win over Sri Lanka on Tuesday.
Australia - Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Michael Hussey, James Hopes, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Bracken.
India - Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Shanth Sreesanth.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:Australia, CB Series, India, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ricky Ponting
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Saturday, March 1st, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.
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