India may play two spinners at MCG

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Paceman S Sreesanth has been rendered a doubtful starter because of fever as India go into the tri-series cricket one-dayer against Australia on Sunday.

Updated: February 11, 2008 08:08 IST
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Paceman S Sreesanth has been rendered a doubtful starter because of fever as India go into the tri-series cricket one-dayer against Australia on Sunday toying with the idea of fielding two specialist spinners to exploit a slow track.

The fever to the temperamental Sreesanth as come as a big blow for the visitors as the Kerala speedster had made quite an impact in the two rain-abandoned games.

The Indians have not yet decided on the playing eleven for the day-night encounter but Sreesanth appears almost certain to be in the casualty list.

The visitors have also dropped enough hints that they could deploy the two-spinner strategy against the hosts who are high on confidence after thrashing Sri Lanka by 128 runs in the last match in Sydney.

"Looking at the slow and low conditions which usually prevail at the MCG, we would even consider the option of playing with two spinners," opener Virender Sehwag said.

In case the Indians indeed opt for two specialist spinners, leg spinner Piyush Chawla may get a look in to bolster the spin department which has Harbhajan Singh as the only other slow bowler.

With their first two matches being abandoned due to rain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his young brigade will need to pull up their socks against the home team.

While the Indian pacemen have given a good account of themselves, the batting has not shown the desired consistency in the two rain affected games.

One-day specialist Yuvraj Singh has been going through a lean patch since the Test series while the form of some of the other younger batsmen like Rohit Sharma and Robin Uthappa, who joined the team for one-day team, has also been worrying factor.

The focus will again be on the youngsters who have replaced stalwarts like Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly in the team.

Other batting failure would no doubt put enormous pressure on them.

The Australians, on the other hand, have a settled batting line up and the return of Matthew Hayden, who invariably reserves his best against the Indians, has only strengthened the line-up.

Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting is hoping that his champion team carries the momentum into the game against India.

"We've got a full game of cricket and a really good, comprehensive win. We're probably going to get similar types of conditions in Melbourne as well," Ponting said.

"The wicket all year down there hasn't offered much pace and bounce either, so what we've got out of this game we can take down there and hopefully adapt to their attack and adapt to their batting line-up," he added.

Ponting also reminded the Indians that his bowlers have been doing a good job in the one-dayers.

"(But) We've got a really good mix and balance with our bowling attack in both forms of the game right now. Our one-day attack the last couple of years has been very solid," he said.

Most Indian batters have not shown a tendency to build on to a good start and hopefully the example of Gautam Gambhir and Dhoni, when they put on 184 runs against Sri Lanka in Brisbane, would not be lost.

Australia appear extremely formidable in all departments even though the likes of Ponting and Gilchrist are not in the best of forms.

They have variety and cricketers with more than one dimension in their ranks. They could use as many as seven bowling options and eight in their ranks can do a good job with the bat.

Sunday promises to be sunny throughout and India would have their first full game. An upset win tomorrow could bring a considerable gap between them and Sri Lanka.

For much of the last two weeks the speed and agility of the young Indian team has been its' major calling card.

Tomorrow could offer a clinching argument, either way.

Teams (likely):

Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Andrew Symonds, James Hopes, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken and Mitchell Johnson.

India: Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma and S Sreesanth.

Match to start at 8.45 IST.

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