India must beat Australia to ensure place in finals

February 23rd, 2008 - 2:44 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
(Preview)

Sydney, Feb 23 (IANS) India need to beat Australia, preferably with a bonus point, here Sunday to make sure of their place in the finals of the Commonwealth Bank triangular one-day series. India are placed second with 12 points while Sri Lanka have six and still have an outside chance of qualifying for the best-of-three finals March 2, 4 and 7. Australia with 22 points are already through.

All three teams have played six matches each and have two more to round off the league phase.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team will need to put it across a surprisingly struggling Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) to take points tally to 16. It could be 17 if they win a bonus point, which will further consolidate their position.

Sri Lanka lost their fourth match in the long-winding Tournament Friday when Austalia defeated them in a rain-hit game in Melbourne. They have won just one match and one of their matches was abandoned due to rain, a result that might prove costly in the final analysis.

Sri Lanka cannot be exactly ruled out of the competition. Even if India beat Australia Sunday, their entry in the finals would hinge on the condition that Sri Lanka lost both their remaining matches.

A win with a bonus point in Sunday’s match would, however, should virtually see India through.

Each team plays the other four times and at the end of the league the top two teams qualify for the finals.

India would draw hope and strength from Yuvraj Singh’s return to form with a half-century against Sri Lanka in Adelaide Oval Tuesday.

At a time when India’s top-order batsmen are struggling, the Punjab left-hander seems to be regaining his touch just when the race for the finals has intensified.

The other Indian batsmen, barring Dhoni, also need to fire if the team has to progress beyond the league stage.

The bowling, on the other hand, has been impressive throughout the tour, with pacer Ishant Sharma leading the way.

Australian batsmen, including their captain Ricky Ponting, have also been short of runs and it is their bowling and excellent fielding that have bailed them out of in the series.

Australia might rest some of the regulars and give an opportunity to the bench for Sunday’s match, as the outcome of the match is not going to affect their standing.

Teams:

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/wicket-keeper), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Irfan
Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist (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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