Boxing Day Test: India gears up for challenge

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> An under-prepared but confident India take on champions Australia in the opening cricket Test in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Updated: December 26, 2007 18:57 IST
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An under-prepared but confident India take on champions Australia in the opening cricket Test in Melbourne on Wednesday in a clash between their strong batting line-up and the home side's bowling attack without two of their all-time greats Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

The Indians will heavily rely on their batting depth as they seek to record a rare series triumph Down Under where the conditions have become far more batting-friendly of late.

India's new found aggression was very much on display during the recent one-day series against Australia and the visitors have braced for the Boxing Day Test with some changes to their batting line-up.

Even though Australia would field only three quicks and the spin diet of Brad Hogg could come handy, the Indians are painfully aware that most of their batsmen have had no time to prepare for conditions which work a batsman inside out.

Only 48 overs over two days was all the Indians could manage from the three-day game against Victoria. Only Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly could be said to have had a decent hit.

The rest of the batsmen would have to go by memory to pull in their weight.

India practically needs in excess of 400 runs in every innings to make a match of it. It should not be too difficult for a formidable line-up in conditions that are said to be in favour of batsmen.

All those centuries and runs must count for something even if Australia has an attack which looks threatening enough.

Australia sure are favourites for this Test, and the series, but they can write this Indian team off at their own peril.
Dravid is unaccustomed to the role of an opener but the fire still burns bright in him. Sachin Tendulkar, Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh would take some handling.

Last time the team was here, they defied all odds and left with honours even, and with a moral victory as well.

It being the last tour of the country by Dravid, Ganguly, Tendulkar, Kumble and Laxman, the ageing stalwarts would not be short on motivation and an Australian attack sans Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne only fuel their hopes for a last hurrah.

The miserable weather of the last week is likely to give way to bright and sunny spell over the next five days and India would do everything to make hay.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (c), Adam Gilchrist, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Michael Hussey, Phil Jaques, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait.

India: Anil Kumble (c), MS Dhoni, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh, Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Kaarthick, Zaheer Khan, VVS Laxman, Pankaj Singh, Irfan Pathan, Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma, Rudra Pratap Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh.

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