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India seeking World Cup revenge

October 22, 2003 18:05 IST

India face a tough task to avenge their humiliating World Cup final defeat by Australia in a one-day triangular tournament starting on Thursday.

Australia overpowered India by 125 runs in Johannesburg in March after an equally ruthless nine-wicket victory in the tournament's group stages.

But Ricky Ponting's side arrive with diminished firepower because of injuries to leading fast bowlers Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee, as well as the continued absence of banned leg spinner Shane Warne.

Australia will still be the team to beat but Indian hopes of playing them in the final on November 18 could be dashed by New Zealand, the third side in the tournament.

The Kiwis face the hosts in the opening day-night game in Madras on Thursday inspired by recent history.

Stephen Fleming's side displayed typical resilience to draw a two-Test series 0-0 this week to kill off India's hopes to make amends for their 2-0 defeat in New Zealand late last year when their batsmen looked clueless on seaming pitches.

With the teams due to play each other three times in the group stage, New Zealand will get opportunities to keep the hosts out of the final just as they did to Australia in January 2002 when South Africa went on to win the tournament.


India start their campaign with uncertainty after captain Sourav Ganguly was ruled out for at least two matches due to a groin injury that also forced him out of the second Test in Mohali.

Stand-in captain Rahul Dravid could face further pressure with leading batsman Sachin Tendulkar struggling for form.

Tendulkar, the leading run-scorer in one-day history, made just 71 runs in four innings at an average of 17.75, including a scrappy 55 on a flat Mohali pitch.

India's bowling could also be severely tested by the absence of left-arm fast bowler Ashish Nehra, who is yet to recover from the ankle operation he underwent after capturing 15 World Cup wickets at an average of 19.26.

Experienced seamer Javagal Srinath, nursing a knee injury and contemplating retirement, will be another important member from the World Cup squad to miss the triangular series.

By contrast, New Zealand have quickly adapted to Indian conditions and will be further boosted by the arrival of key all rounders Chris Cairns and Chris Harris.

Although the experienced Nathan Astle has flown home early with a knee injury, middle-order batsman Craig McMillan has rediscovered his batting form, averaging 237 in the Tests to end a prolonged form slump.

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