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Aussies dare Team India, ready for revenge series

CNN-IBN
Sep 28, 2007 at 08:50am IST

It's time for Team India to leave the heady celebrations aside and gear up for the challenge ahead – the Australian cricket team. India will be taking on the mighty Australians in a seven-match One-Day series that begins on Saturday in Bangalore.

Any series the Aussies are involved in is always billed as one of the top-most series in the international cricket fraternity.

Joining CNN-IBN's Bhupendra Chaubey on Face the Nation on Thursday were former Indian cricketer and current fielding coach, Robin Singh, and well-known cricket writer Peter Lalor from The Australian, to discuss the question: Are Australians still the real world champions?

Australian Captain Ricky Ponting launched a salvo on Indian Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Thursday, saying that it's the Aussies who are the real world champions.

"Make no mistake, the Australians are wounded. The Australian fans are annoyed. The last time I saw Ricky (Ponting) in this sort of mood was after the 2005 Ashes, and he came home seething. I spent some time with him today and he is seething," says Peter Lalor.

After Australia lost to India in the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Championships, the One-Day series is almost being billed as the revenge series, very much like 1983, when India beat the West Indies in the World Cup final and they came to India which led to a whitewash of the Indian team.

"I don't think all of their anger is directed towards India as such. They are angry that they didn't win the trophy. They are very annoyed with Sreesanth who has a lot to say on the pitch and he doesn't show enough respect," Lalor adds.

The likes of Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and skipper Ponting, it seems, will be itching to get after Sreesanth.

However, Ricky Ponting's statement to the media on Thursday does hold true as the Australians have done a hat-trick of the World Cup other than their victory in 1987. Thus, despite losing a semi-final in a new format of the game, his statement carries weight.

“Nothing wrong in that. But they have to accept that we beat them fair and square,” says India's fielding coach Robin Singh.

Singh adds, “I think the young kids, I prefer to call them that because they are new in international cricket, they stood up to the challenge. No team gave us a chance to even get to the finals. They way the Indian team has played cricket with the eagerness to win, I can't see us doing badly at all in this series. I think we will put up a stiff challenge against the Aussies.”

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And what about the fact that Sreesanth will be targetted? It certainly has the potential to work in India's favour as well.

"Even we are tracking a few of the Aussies. That's what we did even in South Africa. It works both ways. We are up for the challenge. Whatever they do, I think they will also expect the same," adds Robin.

Often the Australian team has been described as a team that doesn't behave very well when they come on the cricket pitch, which perhaps sends a wrong message to the cricket-viewing public. For instance, the incident which prompted the team to push BCCI President Sharad Pawar off the dais after winning the Champions Trophy last year.

"I think it was the action of one man more than anything, it was Damien Martyn, and I think he regrets that action today. I'd suggest that the Indian cricketers probably felt like doing that yesterday. It was their moment in the sun, it was time for the BCCI to get out of the way, wasn't it? It wasn't the time for officials to be standing in front of the team. The team played cricket, the people who watch cricket want to see the cricketers. India was pretty strong about that yesterday, and maybe owes Damien Martyn an apology in retrospect," Lalor argues.

The Australians, however, have also been known to be involved in a fair bit of verbal duel as well. Even the last time when Steve Waugh was here as skipper, there was a battle which was brewing between Waugh and Sourav Ganguly who was the Indian skipper then. Now, Ricky Ponting is taking on Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

"Of course it's a tactic. I don't think that Ricky is targetting Dhoni so much. I think he has acknowledged that he is a very good captain and the Australians have acknowledged that the Indians played well and deserved to win the Trophy. But they are putting the pressure on and it's been said to the Indians that there are 20 matches coming up between the two teams over this long summer ahead," Lalor reasons.

The new Indian team has certainly proved its mettle in the Twenty20 version, but is it ready for the challenge thrown at them by the Australians?

"Certainly, and I think with people like Sachin, Sourav and Rahul coming back, even though they were not part of the 20-over team, they are in pretty good form. Zaheer Khan has been bowling well. I think we are ready for it, and we won't back down on a challenge. That's for sure," Robin Singh says.

"I think we have an even chance of winning the series. The Aussies haven't played too much cricket. They will probably come into this game very eager to win, but India is not a very easy place to play. They will be travelling quite a bit, I think we know that much better than they do," Robin adds.

The series could very well turn out to be one of the most important series that India has ever played in. Remember, that India won the World Cup final in 1983 only to find that the West Indies defeated them 5-0 in the Test series at home. This will be a seven-match One-Day series, and has the makings of a classic.

SMS poll results: Are Australians still the real world champions?

67 per cent say yes

33 per cent say no

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