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Gavaskar predicts gloomy time in Australia

By N.Ananthanarayanan
November 20, 2003 20:15 IST
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India depart on Friday for a tour of Australia but already critics, led by former captain Sunil Gavaskar, are suggesting Sourav Ganguly's side is heading for another demoralising trip.

Ricky Ponting's one-day team beat India in the World Cup final in Johannesburg in March and the Australians completed a 37-run win in Tuesday's tri-series final over India in Kolkata.

India's batting crumbled under pressure while chasing a modest target of 236 against an Australia pace attack without injured trio Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee.

"If they can't get 236 against a second string bowling attack what will they do against the fully fledged attack?" Gavaskar, who has scored a world record 34 Test centuries, wrote in his Hindustan Times newspaper column.

India have struggled in Australia, losing the 1999-2000 three-Test series 3-0 and the 1991-92 five-match series 4-0.

Ponting, who is Test vice-captain under Steve Waugh's leadership, warned India would face a gruelling time in Australia, where they are due to play four Tests and a one-day tri-series also involving Zimbabwe.

India have had a poor build-up, managing only to draw last month's two-Test home series against New Zealand and they were forced to follow-on in the second game in Mohali.

"Our performances in the recently-concluded Test and one-day series has been below par," Ganguly wrote in his column in the Hindustan Times on Thursday.

"The situation requires for everyone to put up their hands and be counted."

India's batting on faster Australian pitches will depend heavily on mainstays Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, while their own pace attack will be thin on experience and confidence.

Ganguly is recovering from a groin injury, suffered on his return after a month's lay-off because of a thigh injury.

Fast bowler Javagal Srinath retired this month after failing to recover from a knee injury, leaving only Ajit Agarkar among the five pacemen with previous experience of playing Down Under.

India's selectors have been criticised for omitting left-arm spinner Murali Kartik, who bowled better than Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble in the one-dayers.

The first Test starts in Brisbane on December 4.

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