Monday, November 2
Start time 14.30 (09.00GMT)
When this seven-match ODI series is finished, it’s likely that what lingers in the memory the longest is not MS Dhoni’s century in Nagpur, or the consistency of Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting, but how the teams lost key players to injury after every contest and had to make do with thinning resources and last-minute reinforcements. Not one of the first three fixtures was contested by two full-strength elevens and both India and Australia are further depleted ahead of the fourth game at the PCA Stadium in Mohali.
India’s latest setbacks occurred at the Feroz Shah Kotla, where Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag picked up injuries, making them doubtful starters for the Mohali game. Gambhir was struck on the neck by a full-blooded pull from Ponting while fielding at short leg and a yorker from Peter Siddle crashed into Sehwag’s foot. Only on the morning of the game will it be known whether either batsman will be fit to play.
Australia, meanwhile, had a third player from their original tour party flying home because of injury. James Hopes picked up a hamstring strain in the first one-dayer, remained with the squad longer than fellow casualties Brett Lee and Tim Paine, but hadn’t recovered quickly enough for him to be able to play the remaining ODIs. Clint McKay, the Victoria seamer, was the latest addition to the Australian squad after Moises Henriques and Graham Manou. Mitchell Johnson seems to be pulling through the series despite a sore ankle. Other national hopefuls might be watching tomorrow’s match thinking they might be next to receive a call from Andrew Hilditch.
The schedule isn’t kind to the injured either. The teams left the Kotla only at midnight after Saturday’s game. Their arrival in Chandigarh was delayed and by the time they reached, there were fewer than 24 hours to go before Dhoni and Ponting are scheduled to toss. Provided both of them remain injury-free of course.
The added incentive to tomorrow’s contest is that if India win, they will claim the No. 1 ranking in one-day internationals. If Australia prevail, they will stretch their current one-point lead to three.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Australia - LLWWW
India - WWLWL
Watch out for …
Ricky Ponting: The Delhi pitch was tough for batting, the squad was inexperienced and depleted by injury, and in the interest of team balance Australia decided not to play specialist opener Shaun Marsh. They needed someone to partner Shane Watson at the top and Ponting took on the responsibility. It was only the second time he was opening in his 327-ODI career and he fought the conditions and batted with restraint to score his second half-century of the series. “I’m obviously the most experienced player in our side and to put one of the other guys up to open the innings I thought would have been more of a challenge for them than it would be for me,” Ponting said. He is likely to open again.
The Yuvraj-Dhoni partnership: Their 148-run partnership won India the Delhi game on a pitch that was difficult for shot-playing. The PCA Stadium surface is likely to be much flatter and faster and, if Yuvraj and Dhoni should spend considerable time in each other’s company, they could render Australia helpless once again. Yuvraj will also be playing in front of his home crowd, something he said he was looking forward to very much while collecting his Man-of-the-Match award at the Kotla.
India will decide on Sehwag and Gambhir’s participation only on Monday morning and have brought in wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik as cover. Virat Kohli, who played in Vadodara but was dropped thereafter, is the other batsman in the squad. They might have wanted to rest Sachin Tendulkar, whom Yuvraj referred to in jest as the “grandfather” of the dressing room, because of the one-day gap between matches but that is now unlikely. The bowling attack is settling down nicely and doesn’t need changing.
India(probable): 1 Virender Sehwag/Dinesh Karthik, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Gautam Gambhir/Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Ashish Nehra.
Ponting said that Australia fielded the XI they did in Delhi in order to maintain team balance - playing Marsh would mean one less bowler - and they could be unchanged, with the captain opening the innings again.
Australia: (probable): 1 Shane Watson, 2 Ricky Ponting (capt), 3 Michael Hussey, 4 Cameron White, 5 Adam Voges, 6 Moises Henriques, 7 Graham Manou (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Peter Siddle, 11 Doug Bollinger.
Pitch and conditions
The pitch at the PCA Stadium, like most of those in India, would ordinarily be a win-toss-and-bat surface. However, with the onset of winter, the significant difference between day and night temperatures will result in heavy dew in the evenings. Nathan Hauritz struggled during his spell in Delhi, and Adam Voges bowled only one over because he couldn’t grip the ball. If the pitch looks like it will stay good for batting for 100 overs, the captain winning the toss could be tempted to bowl first to give his bowlers the benefit of a dry ball.
Stats and trivia
* India have won five out of eight ODIs they’ve played at the PCA Stadium. However, they lost their last two matches there, against Pakistan in 2007, and against Australia in the 2006 Champions Trophy. Australia have played four ODIs in Mohali and won three.
* No Indian batsman has scored a hundred in an ODI in Mohali. Tendulkar’s 99 against Pakistan in 2007 is the highest. Tendulkar is the highest scorer at the venue, with 241 runs at an average of 60.25.
* Harbhajan Singh, another local lad, has taken seven wickets at 24.71 apiece in four matches in Mohali. He has an economy-rate of 4.91 there.
“If it looks like everyone’s fit and ready for the next game there’s probably every chance that I’ll open again.”
Ponting is prepared to lead from the front again.
“Plan? We are in fact tired of planning celebrations for him. Every week, the guy goes on to make some record or other. How many times can you celebrate?”
Yuvraj’s reply when asked if the team had plans to celebrate should Tendulkar score the 47 he needs to reach 17,000 ODI runs in Mohali.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Monday, November 2nd, 2009 and is filed under Cricket, General.
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