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Kotla ODI could be low-scoring affair

Last updated on: October 30, 2009 18:57 IST

Can India's top order fire again?



Buoyed by the emphatic victory in the second ODI at Nagpur, a confident India will be looking to keep the momentum going when they take on Australia in the third match in Delhi on Saturday.

With the seven-match series tied 1-1, both teams are keen to regain the initiative in what promises to be a thrilling floodlit contest at the Ferozshah Kotla.

The resounding victory in Nagpur will no doubt serve as a huge confidence booster for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men, who came up with a brilliant all-round display to claw their way back into the series after Australia took the lead.

Barring Sachin Tendulkar, the awesome Indian batting line-up looked solid, with most of the top order batsmen being among the runs in the first two matches.

Dhoni himself led from the front with a blistering 124 off 107 balls while Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir laid the foundation with their lusty strokeplay.

Image: Sachin Tendulkar gets set for batting practice at the Kotla


Ponting's woes mount

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Australia captain Ricky Ponting was an angry man after a watered practice pitch at the Kotla stadium hampered his team's preparation for the crucial match.

The Aussies, who arrived in Delhi last Thursday evening, were scheduled to practice from 1000 IST till 1330 IST, but when they arrived at the stadium they were shocked to see awatered practice pitch.

Ponting said the wicket was completely soggy and was not in a condition to be used.

"I was disappointed when I had a look at the practice wicket which has been watered this morning," he said.

"Everyone in the world except the groundsmen knew we were coming for training and when we came it was completely unusable. By the time India will arrive wicket will be fine and it's a disadvantage for us," Ponting added.

Image: Ricky Ponting was upset after being given a watered pitch for practice

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Aussies have problems to sort out

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While the Indians looked a confident lot, the Aussies have a few problems to sort out, particularly in their bowling department with pace spearhead Brett Lee being forced to sit put of the game.

Lee also sat out of the Nagpur tie because of an elbow injury.

The spate of injuries to some of their key players has weakened the World champions to some extent and a depleted bowling attack has only compounded their misery.

Wicket-keeper bastman Tim Paine was the latest to join the casualty list with a broken finger that ruled him out of the entire series. Paine has been replaced by rookie Graham Manou, who is sure to make his ODI debut on Saturday.

Despite winning the first match at Vadodara by a narrow margin, the Aussies never really looked in command and Ponting will be keen to plug the loopholes before it is too late.

Image: Shaun Marsh checks his bat before having a hit in the nets

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Dhoni will be looking for more from Harbhajan

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Ponting's counterpart Dhoni will be delighted with the performance of his team, especially the bowlers who went for a ride in the series opener.

Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar looked menacing upfront with the new ball, while Ravindra Jadeja has been a sensation in the spin department and shared the responsibility ably with Harbhajan Singh, who is going through a rough patch.

"All the bowlers did well. Ashish Nehra is at his usual impressive form, Ishant Sharma is continuing with his good show and good thing is Praveen Kumar has come up good. Ravindra Jadeja came in late but got three crucial wickets in the last game," Dhoni said.

To add to that, the options in the slow bowling department would be an advantage for the Indians on the low and slow Kotla strip.

Image: Harbhajan Singh bowls in the nets

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Toss could prove crucial

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The first two matches of the series have been high-scoring contests but Saturday's game could turn out to be a rather low-scoring affair with the Kotla pitch not very conducive for stroke-play.

The recent Champions League matches have shown that scoring freely will be a tough proposition although the curator has tried his best to prepare the track for the match.

Dew will be another important factor and both the captains will have that in mind when they go out for the toss.

Image: Yuvraj Singh celebrates after scoring in a football session at practice

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