Thursday, January 31, 2008

Indians ready for Twenty-20 Party....

"Well done Tendulkar, you are a youngster," complimented Virender Sehwag as the 34-year-old sprinted across, bent down to field the ball with just one hand and brought about a flat throw.
One can sense that liveliness in this batch, that extra zest, those little jokes against each other, those huge peals of laughter; the serious men have all left and the boys are all having a big party. This is India's one-day team, a unit of all youngsters geared in blue, and Tendulkar- with all his child-like enthusiasm for the game, and in his ability to pull a fast one still intact- fits in very neatly.
The Indian team arrived in Melbourne today afternoon with Harbhajan Singh being 'protected' by policeman on his way out of the airport-the Indian team management denied any extra security requests and soon after arrival, rushed for practice.
There has been enough off-field drama and Mahendra Singh Dhoni would want his boys to concentrate completely on cricket now. All 14 except Munaf Patel and Ishant Sharma were there. Munaf has yet to arrive from India after replacing injured RP Singh, and fast bowler Ishant Sharma was given a day off from practice.
It's nice and cool here in Melbourne. But dark clouds are hovering and there is possibility of light showers through the evening. Team India sweated it out in a prolonged and concentrated fielding session that followed the light nets.
On Friday night, a 90,000 sell-out crowd is expected to watch the Twenty20 match between T20 world champions India and one-day champions Australia at the MCG-interestingly, in this format India have a reputation to live up to while Australia come with a point to prove.
Tendulkar though, looks unlikely to make his Twenty20 debut yet-there are indications that Tendulkar might opt out of the shortest version of the game, take a break and keep himself fresh for the ODI tri-series while the team goes back to its original T20 batting order of opening with Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir with Robin Uthappa at number three.
However, there can be a change in that, especially since Yuvraj Singh has been ruled out after failing to recover in time for the T20 fixture, leaving the No. 4 spot vacant in the batting line-up.
Dinesh Kaarthick, India's first Man of the Match in this format, is also a prime contender to fill in for Yuvraj. The Indian vice-captain, who trained lightly with the team before consulting a knee specialist here today along with physio John Gloster, has been declared available before the second ODI.
Harbhajan Singh, relieved at being freed of racial charges, looked calm, despite the local media hitting out at his acquittal, and was ignorant of what Justice John Hansen had said in his findings. The off-spinner, however denied there was any celebration. "Why celebrate? We haven't won the series. I am happy that's it," he said.
There are reports that Harbhajan Singh would be spoken to by BCCI officials to keep his behaviour and on-field conduct appropriate, but the team management denied knowledge of that.

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