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|November 30, 1999||
Battling the BluesHarish Krishnamachar
The New South Wales Blues sports an interesting lineup, as under:
Michael Bevan (Capt.)
Worth noting in particular is the fact that four New South Welshmen -- Michael Slater, Steve and Mark Waugh and Glenn McGrath -- are being rested for this match. Factor in those four, and you have a formidable NSW lineup. Their absence, on Test duty, has however hurt the Blues, who now find themselves at the bottom of the Pura Milk Cup table.
The general assumption is that the Sydney Cricket Ground, where India play the Blues starting December 2, in a four-day warm-up game ahead of the first Test, is the ground that gives the touring side its best chance of beating Australia in a Test. That being the case, it is vital for the team to register a win against NSW in the four-day game.
By my reckoning, the Indian team that should take on the Blues here should read:
At the end of the game against Queensland, Tendulkar had made a point that he wanted to give all the members of his squad a game ahead of the first Test beginning December 10. That objective has been kept in mind when picking the above lineup. Also, this game is crucial for the Indians in that they need to get a fix on two problem slots -- number two, and number six.
If Ganguly is fit, he should play his first match on this tour. Kanitkar should play ahead of Bharadwaj, who seems to have dug himself into a hole with his batting form. Srinath should replace Mohanty and Prasad should make way for Harbhajan, in order to let the offie get a feel of the only ground on which he is likely to make the Test 11.
It will be interesting to see how Ramesh & Laxman (if that is the pair who open for India on Thursday), take on Brett Lee, who is seen as the quickest bowler in Australia and just a step away from a Test cap. The general feeling Down Under is that the Australian selectors will slip the leash on Lee, who is being rated as on par with Akthar in terms of pace, against the Indians -- perhaps as early as the first Test. The other bowler to watch for is Stuart MacGill, who will want to turn in a good performance with a view to booking a Test berth against India at the SCG.
For the Blues, which have a weak batting side, the batsmen to watch are Corey Richards and Michael Bevan, and probably Shane Lee as well. However, neither of the three have a realistic chance of making the Test team, so the real points of interest center around the Indian team and its ability to answer vital questions -- can the batsmen play the Test style innings? can the openers counter quality pace? will Ganguly bring the stability the middle order badly lacks? Will Srinath adaptt quickly enough to the different conditions here? how effective will Harbajan be on Australian wickets? -- ahead of the first Test.
The important thing for India will be to try and force a win, in order to build up a momentum ahead of the December 10 encounter at Adelaide.
Editor's note:This preview of the game between the touring Indian side and New South Wales was sent in by Mahesh Krishnamachar, a regular reader. Such contributions are welcome, from all of you out there.
Mail Prem Panicker
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