India hopefuls plot to dent Aussie pride

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Team India hopefuls under Yuvraj Singh would try every trick in the book to pull off an upset when President's XI take on Australia in the warm up match.

Updated: October 01, 2008 12:37 IST
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With nothing really to lose and a lot to gain, Team India hopefuls under Yuvraj Singh would try every trick in the book to pull off an upset when Board President's XI take on Australia in the four-day warm up match starting on Thursday.

If motivation is the issue, the Indians need not look beyond. Vice-captain S Badrinath has already made the cut and his teammates, including captain Yuvraj Singh, would hope to give a good account of themselves over the next four days to stake their claim for the second half of the Test series against the same opponents.

Australia are already on the back foot with 36-year-old leg-spinner Bryce McGain ruled out of the warm-up match with a shoulder injury while all-rounder Shane Watson is also a doubtful starter after he woke up with temperature on Wednesday morning.

Australia coach Tim Nielsen did not gloss over his batsmen's apparent weakness against quality spin bowling and hopes playing against Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha would be the perfect rehearsal before they go on to face Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh when the actual Test series begins on October 9 in Bangalore.

"I hope our batsmen get enough practice of playing quality spin to go into the first Test fully ready to face Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble. There is no better place than India to learn how to play India. Over the next four days, we have to give ourselves the best chance to come to terms with the Indian spinners," he explained.

It holds true for someone like Badrinath as well, who was picked by the selectors for the first two Test matches against Australia.

"The match now becomes even more important for me, because it allows me to play against the same Australian players whom I might face again in the Test series," Badrinath said.

For captain Yuvraj, who believes he has got his mojo back, it's time to lead from the front and prove that he is good enough to make the cut for the Test squad.

One of the most gifted players who has been around for quite a while, Yuvraj is yet to do justice to his abundant talent in the longer version of the game and silence those who question his commitment and temperament.

Among his teammates, both Wasim Jaffer and Aakash Chopra would love to make a statement with the bat over the next four days.

With Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in prime form, a 'no vacancy' sign greets both Jaffer and Chopra in the national team's opening slot. But they at least can reassure the selectors that though their grafting is no comparison to the Delhi duo's pyrotechnics, they can do a decent job against the Aussies.

There was a time when Irfan Pathan was one of the automatic choices but that seems a distant dream for the left-arm seamer who has to prove his mettle again and could not have asked for a better opposition.

Chawla and Ojha have been hailed as the future of Indian spin bowling and the duo would have to tie the Aussies in tangles here to sow the seed of doubt in the minds of Aussies, something Harbhajan and Kumble can exploit in the subsequent Test series.

Board President's XI: Yuvraj Singh (captain), S Badrinath (vice-captain), Piyush Chawla, Aakash Chopra, Rakesh Dhurv, Manpreet Gony, Wasim Jaffer, Virat Kohli, Pragyan Ojha, Pankaj Singh, Parthiv Patel (wicket-keeper), Irfan Pathan, Rohit Sharma, S Sreesanth and Yogesh Takawale.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Doug Bollinger, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke (vice-captain), Brad Haddin (wicket-keeper), Matthew Hayden, Michael Hussey, Phil Jaques, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Jason Krejza, Brett Lee, Peter Siddle and Shane Watson.

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