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Sehwag's knee problems keep India on tenterhooks

Last updated on: March 24, 2011 10:46 IST

'Will take a call on Viru before start of the game'

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Opener Virender Sehwag's knee injury will keep India on tenterhooks as the co-hosts aim to end Australia's World Cup domination with a quarter-final victory on Thursday.

Sehwag missed India's last Group B match against West Indies on Sunday following an allergic reaction to an injection on his right knee but more than one billion home fans will want him to show up against Australia as he has the ability to blunt their formidable pace attack.

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However, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni could not announce him fit for what is a repeat of the 2003 final.

"On Viru (Sehwag) we are taking a call late in the evening or tomorrow morning before the start of the game," Dhoni told reporters on Wednesday.


Image: Virender Sehwag at the nets
Photographs: Reuters
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'We rely on our fast bowlers to take wickets'

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Australia's aura of World Cup invincibility was punctured by Pakistan when they beat the four-time champions on Saturday, ending a 34-match unbeaten run.

However, while that defeat did not have much riding on it since it was a round-robin match, a loss on Thursday will mean Australia will not feature in a World Cup final for the first time since 1992.

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Determined to avoid suffering that fate, Ricky Ponting will let loose his battery of pacemen, who will literally aim high at the Indian batsmen's body.

In Australia's last match at the same venue, the pacemen -- Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson -- crushed Zimbabwe by 91 runs with the trio claiming seven of the 10 wickets.

At the same time, Ponting's men can expect the co-hosts to spin a web around their batsmen with a combination of their frontline and part-timer tweakers.

"No doubt we rely on our fast bowlers to take the wickets and India are probably the exact opposite of that," Ponting, seeking a hat-trick of World Cup titles as captain, told reporters.

"We could be facing 30 overs of spin bowling and they will probably... face 30 overs of fast bowling."


Image: Ricky Ponting
Photographs: Getty Images
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This could be Tendulkar or Ponting's last WC game

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Thursday's quarter-final, in all likelihood will be the last World Cup appearance for either Ponting or Sachin Tendulkar -- the two most prolific run-scorers in international cricket.

While the 36-year old Ponting is battling a slump in form, the Indian batting maestro, 37, has been in a rich vein of form with already two centuries in the tournament.

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The partisan crowd at the 48,000-strong Sardar Patel Stadium will throng the stands with two wishes -- Tendulkar gets to his 100th ton in international cricket and India set up a semi-final clash with Pakistan in Mohali.

"It is a big advantage. You have 30,000-40,000 people coming on to the ground to cheer for you. If they are cheering for you then it definitely makes a difference," Dhoni said.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Reuters
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