Make-or-break for India, Aussies

Kuala Lumpur, September 21:

Australia and India face-off in a crunch DLF Cup one-day match on Friday, conscious that whoever loses will take the failure into next month’s Champions Trophy.

Aside from the psychological boost a win would give, plenty more is at stake for world No 1 Australia. The last time they missed the final of a triangular tournament was the VB Series in 2001-02, which led to Steve Waugh being replaced as one-day captain by Ricky Ponting.

The Aussies currently lie second in the table with seven points, one in front of India, a ledger that means a tie or wash-out in Friday’s ‘semi-final’ would be enough for them to make the Sunday’s final against West Indies.

Australia will field a strong lineup after experimenting in this tournament. Glenn McGrath will spearhead a dangerous bowling attack with Brett Lee, while Matthew Hayden and Simon Katich should open the innings.

With Ponting, Damien Martyn, Michael Hussey and Andrew Symonds in the side India’s bow-lers will have their work cut out.

But if Indian captain Rahul Dravid has been encouraged by anything in Malaysia it

has been his bowling attack, with Munaf Patel, Ajit Agarkar and spinner Harbhajan Singh coming into their own.

Their batting has been less of a hit, with Sachin Tendulkar the only player to show consistent form. “The spirit in the side is good,” said Dravid, buoyed by their 16-run victory over the West Indies in a low-scoring match on Wednesday.

“Australia are obviously a very good team. It will be a good contest and irrespective of the result, I hope we play well. I hope we put up a better performance with the bat (than against the West Indies) and match our performance with the ball,” added Dravid.