India will go into the Commonwealth Bank Series match against Australia at Brisbane on Sunday with a lot of confidence – probably the first time on the tour.
All of a sudden, everything has changed for the Indians. Courtesy, their thrilling four-wicket win against the Aussies a couple of matches ago. Now nobody will hesitate to put their money on them.
Looking at what happened in the Test series, few would have backed them to beat Australia in the triangular series but that mental hurdle has been rid of, and now the Indians back themselves to further pile on the misery of the Australians, who lost their second successive match on Friday to Sri Lanka.
The manner of their defeat is a worrying sign for the hosts who, batting first, could only post 158 in 41 overs and the Lankans got over the line with 101 balls to go after they were given a revised target of 152.
With Michael Clarke out of this match on account of a hamstring problem, things again won’t be easy for Australia. Captain Clarke has been inspirational for the Kangaroos in the recent times and his absence was noticeable in the defeat against Sri Lanka.
Veteran Ricky Ponting has taken up the mantle in the absence of Clarke against an outcry from the former players, who believe David Warner should have got the job instead.
With the smarting defeat again Sri Lanka, Ponting must be feeling the heat. It’s clear he doesn’t enjoy the status of a popular figure anymore and he has to lead from the front to change this tide of opposition.
India, on the other hand, seem to have the problem of plenty now. Their controversial rotation policy has been a massive hit so far but at present it’s not clear who will sit out this time, as dropping Gautam Gambhir following two back-to-back nineties against Australia and Sri Lanka may not be a good idea.
Captain Cool Mahendra Singh Dhoni has recaptured his form in this format and has been instrumental in India’s good performances so far. His being in a confident state of mind will stand the team in good stead.
The batting has come good so far the Indians, barring their opening match against the Aussies. The bowling too has been on the money and Vinay Kumar, who copped a lot of flak after his performance in the Sydney Test, is right now the man of the moment.
The Karnataka medium-pacer so far has snared nine wickets at a brilliant average of 20.11. His strike rate is even more brilliant, a wicket every 25th ball. Now when the runt of the lot starts to look strong, that tells you that a team’s fortunes are changing fast.
The only odd one out in the Indian team looks to be the great Sachin Tendulkar. He cut a sorry figure in the last match against Sri Lanka. That he failed with the bat is not consequential. What was worrying was he did not look part of the furniture. After that match, it’s safe to say that his days as international cricketer are coming to a close. He is not sure to get a match but if he does play, the focus will again shift on the historic ton. The good thing is that India now have learnt to win with the weight of the milestone on their shoulders.
India: Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c/wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Parthiv Patel (wk), Irfan Pathan, Rahul Sharma, Manoj Tiwary.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), David Warner (vice-capt), George Bailey, Daniel Christian, Xavier Doherty, Peter Forrest, Ben Hilfenhaus, Jon Holland, Dave Hussey, Mike Hussey, Brett Lee, Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade.