Sydney: India to start fresh in new year

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India trailing 0-1 in the four-Test series could opt for a specialist opening pair with Virender Sehwag beginning at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday

Updated: January 03, 2008 15:03 IST
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It is a new year and a new match, which Team India say they have put the Melbourne disappointment behind them.

But they have been hit with a brand new blow, with Zaheer Khan almost certain to miss the test with an ankle injury he picked up during nets.

Zaheer Khan said he wasn't going to bowl full steam at the nets to avoid the danger of injury. But as fate would have it that is exactly what happened.

Zaheer's ankle injury a huge spirit dampener for Team India who had used this new year's eve cruise on the Sydney harbour as a tool to relax and revive their spirits after the Melbourne debacle.

The only good news, Sourav Ganguly has recovered from his fever and will play in Sydney

"We all needed relaxation batting got into a shell, we need to come out of that, we all relaxed and came together for the new year and it worked for us. We are all feeling positive," said Anil Kumble, Captain, Indian Cricket Team.

The Aussies just one away from equalling the 16 wins in a row record have plenty to play for, but they will be mindful of the fact that India's top performers at the Sydney cricket ground are still among the ranks.

"Sachin's record, well hopefully he won't do too well. Brett Lee and Sachin Battle will be very interesting in this match," said Ricky Ponting, Captain, Australian Cricket Team.

The SCG is Lee's home ground. He has 31 wickets in his eight Tests in Sydney.

Ponting himself enjoys batting in Sydney. But with just seven runs in the series so far Punter wants to get rid of the Bhajji's bunny tag.

"Bhajji's bunny, hopefully it's my turn to score runs against him. In the last match, I took more catches than runs," said Ponting.

Injury woes

The Indian team is dogged by injury and illness. Fast bowler Zaheer Khan has a sore ankle because heavy workload at Melbourne and in-form batsman Sourav Ganguly, who suffered from dehydration on the fourth day of the first Test, is still nursing a cold and a fever.

However, both are expected to be fit to play in the match.

On the other hand, Australia have no such problems. They have retained the eleven that played the first Test as they look to equalling their record of winning 16 Test on the trot under Steve Waugh's captaincy.

They've won eight of the last 10 Tests in Sydney and possess a bowling attack that's growing in stature with each Test.

Mitchell Johnson has been working out his wrist position using a ball that's partly white and partly red. The pitch will have something in it for the faster bowlers and both Stuart Clark and Brett Lee are local boys who would know the conditions.

India need to pull out something special to inject life into this series. Otherwise, it will all be over as they play the third Test on the bouncy Perth pitch.


India: Anil Kumble (captain), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (vice-captain/wicketkeeper), Virendra Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, V.V.S. Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Wasim Jaffer, Ishant Sharma, Rudra Pratap Singh, Zaheer Khan, Dinesh Kartik and Pankaj Singh

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

(With IANS inputs)

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