India looking to deny Aussies revenge
The whole nation went into a frenzy after the Indian team won the Twenty20 World Cup last month, but the euphoria died down rather quickly in a couple of weeks in the wake of the ODI series defeat against Australia.
India were comprehensively outplayed and only managed to sneak out two close wins compared to Australia's four, while the visitors looked favourites to win the opening match in Bangalore, which was washed out.
India's main problem throughout was their inconsistent display and failure to click as a team.
The bowlers were a major letdown and except for the seventh ODI in Mumbai, they never managed to keep the Aussie batsmen under check.
Even though they enter the Twenty20 match against Australia on Saturday as the world champions, few would bet against the high-flying Aussies.
The visitors would be keen to avenge their defeat against India in the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup.
India will also miss their highest run scorer in the recently-concluded one-day series, Sachin Tendulkar (278 runs in 7 matches).
Murali Kartik and Zaheer Khan, the two bowlers who impressed against Australia, are also not part of the Twenty20 side. But then these players were not a part of the World Cup side too and a young team under Mahendra Singh Dhoni triumphed against all odds.
When the Indian team left for the Twenty20 World Cup, no one gave them a chance, and every match after the Super Eight stage was treated as a bonus and the title triumph was a dream come true.
But now things have changed.
They are now the world champions and playing in front of their home fans, so it is natural that the expectations have risen. People would not take anything less than a victory against Australia and it is not surprising either since you are the top side in that format.
India's best hope in the one-off Twenty20 match at the CCI in Mumbai on Saturday would once again be their batting.
Openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have fully recovered from their injuries and would be keen to carry on their good form into this match.
Gambhir was the top scorer for India with 227 runs in 7 matches in the World Cup, while Sehwag also made his mark amassing 133 runs in 6 matches.
Crowd favourite Yuvraj Singh would no doubt be expected to entertain his home crowd and it won't be a surprise to hear chants of "sixer, sixer" when he arrives at the batting crease.
Robin Uthappa looks in good form after a few delightful cameos he played in the ODI series against Australia, but Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma failed in the single opportunity that they got.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's captaincy will come under the scanner once again even though it is just a Twenty20 game. As the skipper he would be keen to ensure that his team, playing as champions for the first time, end up on the winning side.
The bowling is a bit of worry though with both S Sreesanth and RP Singh struggling to keep the Aussie batsmen quiet in the seven-match ODI series. Irfan Pathan and Harbhajan Singh have done well in patches, while Ajit Agarkar didn't even make it to the ODI squad against Australia.
Also making India's task difficult is the fact that all of Australia's top players look in fine form and quiet nicely adapted to the Indian conditions.
Andrew Symonds has proved to be the biggest thorn in India's flesh, plundering 365 runs in 7 matches, while Matthew Hayden notched up 290 runs in 5 matches before going down with a hip injury for the last two games.
Michael Clarke (222), Brad Haddin (200), Adam Gilchrist (208) and Ricky Ponting (199) have also enjoyed a fine run with the bat in the seven-match series.
Left-armer Mitchell Johnson's swing has found the Indian batsmen wanting even on batting friendly tracks. He emerged as the highest wicket-taker in the series with 14 wickets, while Brad Hogg [Images] scalped 11 wickets.
However, India would be keen to carry on the momentum from the last match in Mumbai, in which India managed to sneak a close two-wicket victory.
As has been witnessed in the past, form and past records count for nothing in Twenty20 cricket. A couple of good overs can change the course of a match within a matter of minutes and it is this unpredicitability that Australia is keen to guard against.