Sydney: India are in a race against the clock when they play Australia in the Commonwealth Bank Series at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.
Needing two wins in their last two matches to reach the finals, the time has come for India to show some real action. So far it's been a disastrous tour for them, and desired results over the next two games can have a tempering effect on both players and fans alike.
The good thing is that MS Dhoni has reportedly patched up with Virender Sehwag, hopefully putting an end to the last few tumultuous days in Indian cricket. He will also return to the Indian eleven after serving a one-match ban for failing to finish India's overs in time against Australia last Sunday. Dhoni's return means Parthiv Patel will go out. Irfan Pathan, who did well with both bat and ball in India's defeat to Sri Lanka on Tuesday, is likely to be persisted with despite Zaheer Khan's predicted return.
Facing two make-or-break games, India have no option but to get back to winning form.
After all that has transpired in the last few days, it is safe to say that for the second time in the series, the trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are likely to take the field together with the rotation policy out of the picture now. They played together against Sri Lanka as well but that was actually down to Dhoni's ban. The trio's coming together again may not be a bad thing considering the importance of the upcoming matches and that the youngsters in the side haven’t been up to the mark so far.
The SCG is the ideal place for the Indian players to turn it around. The conditions here are closest to the ones in the sub-continent. The pitch, though good for batting, has often helped the spinners in the past and the Aussies aren't the best players against spin. This boosts India's chances.
Australia too are feeling the heat, for quite obvious reasons. They have lost two successive matches to Sri Lanka; one on account of a poor batting performance, the other on account of some poor bowling. They failed to defend a total of 280 in Hobart on Friday, and clearly not everything is right with them. They have to sort out their problems as soon as possible because despite being in a better position than India, things can change pretty fast for them with another defeat on Sunday.
After six matches, the Lankans lead the table on 15 points ahead of Australia (14) and India (10). With two matches to go, it's still unclear as to which two teams will reach the best-of-three finals.
India: MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Manoj Tiwary, Rahul Sharma, Parthiv Patel, Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan.
Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), Shane Watson, Dan Christian, Xavier Doherty, Peter Forrest, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Brett Lee, Clint McKay, Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner.