The third match of this long and arduous India-Australia 7-match ODI circus will be played out at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad. Like clowns that normally play important parts in a circus both teams have matched each other sledge-for-sledge. However, unlike circus clowns who embellish, enhance and titivate a circus, the clowns on the cricket field took the gloss off a beautifully-conducted and tremendously exciting tournament that most of us had been witness to. Their collective antics served to bring cricket back to earth with a uninspiring, tiresome, dull and indubitable thud!
I do hope the chief perpetrators on both teams tape up their mouths and proceed to play good, strong, effective and attractive cricket — the likes of which we celebrated in South Africa just over two weeks back!
There is talk in the Indian camp of Sourav Ganguly being fit. Yuvraj Singh has indicated that the rotation policy, while being contemplated by the selectors, is part of the future and will not be implemented in todays’ game. Yuvraj Singh said, “rotation is part of the future plan but we’ll play our best XI tomorrow“.
It is not clear what this means in practice. But I suspect this means that Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid will play todays’ game! Talk is that either Gautam Gambhir or Robin Uthappa will need to make way for Sourav Ganguly.
Meanwhile, Australia will be strengthened by the return of Ricky Ponting. He would most likely swap places with Brad Hodge and solidify the batting. In two games running, Australia have been pegged back by early wicket losses. Pontings’ return to the team should bolster the starts that Australia gets and this can only make his counterpart in the Indian team, M. S. Dhoni, sweat some more!
Cricinfo suggests that the likely India team will be:
1 Sachin Tendulkar, 2 Sourav Ganguly, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Rahul Dravid, 6 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt, wk), 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Ramesh Powar, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Sreesanth.
The Hyderabad pitch is said to be a belter and a run-diarrhoea can be expected. Given this scenario, I am not sure of the value of playing two spinners in the team. One of Romesh Powar or Harbhajan Singh could make way for R. P. Singh in my view.