India eye history in second final against Australia

March 3rd, 2008 - 7:08 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
(Preview)

Brisbane, March 3 (IANS) After winning the first of the best-of-three Commonwealth Bank Series finals in Sydney, India are all keyed up to clinch the tri-series and create history by winning Tuesday’s second match at the Gabba. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s enthusiastic lot defeated Australia by six wickets in the first final in Sydney Sunday and would be eager to finish the job without having to go to Adelaide for the decider.

India are playing the finals of the tri-series for the third time on their sixth visit Down Under, but have never won it since they first played in 1980-81, a year after it was launched following a truce between the Australian cricket board and media mogul Kerry Packer.

Australia, on the other hand, have won the series 18 times and were runners-up seven times. They have set this imposing record as they have played in every series as hosts.

Playing in the finals for the fourth time and having won a match in the finals for the first time Sunday, India would like to break the 27-year-old jinx.

For the first time in the series, the Australians will be under pressure, having to stay in the contest and the Indians are in a position to dictate terms. India will only be too keen prove that they got the short end of the stick in off-field controversies in the long Test and One-Day series despite playing tough, competitive cricket.

India lost the Test series 1-2 and in the inaugural section of the tri-series, they won two matches and Australia two while one was abandoned due to rain.

Australia would be wary of India as they are performing as a team, especially Sachin Tendulkar, who hit a masterly 42nd century on Sunday, his first in the ODIs against Australia Down Under and also the first at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

India, especially Tendulkar, will be keen to finish off the acrimonious tour with another win that would give the team the title and wipe out the defeat in the Test series.

Tendulkar is relieved to get the monkey off his shoulder, but he expressed his wish to win Tuesday’s match.

“The first blow is always extremely important. But we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. It’s really important we carry this momentum forward,” Tendulkar said Sunday after the win.

Australia’s coach Tim Nielsen was candid enough to admit that the Indians have tasted the blood and would be out to get on top at the Gabba.

“You would be inhuman not to have a little bit of a hit to the confidence when you’re not getting the results that you’re looking for,” he said Monday.

“That’s the challenge of elite sport. Our challenge at the moment is to keep these blokes up and get them in a state of mind that gives them every opportunity.”

Only on three occasions have Australia lost the opening game of the finals and staged a comeback to clinch the best-of-three series. Thrice, Australia have lost in the title round after they had lost the first final.

Besides Tendulkar, India will be expecting tournament’s leading run scorer Gautam Gambhir (425 at 60.71) and pacer Ishant Sharma (14 wickets at 20.35) to fire one last time on the tour, though the beanpole Delhi fast bowler is a doubtful starter for the match after bruising his bowling finger.

Australia are worried about their middle-order batting, particularly as they were restricted to 239 Sunday and also their bowlers’ failure to check the rampaging Tendulkar and promising Rohit Sharma, who scored a superb 66.

Teams:

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/wicketkeeper), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist (vice-captain/wicket-keeper), Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, James Hopes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds

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