India look to gain early momentum

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Saumojyoti S Choudhury

Bangalore, Feb 12 (PTI) With eyes firmly set on thesilverware, India will look to gain momentum and start theirWorld Cup campaign on a positive note when they take onAustralia in their first warm-up match at the ChinnaswamyStadium here tomorrow.

With memories of 2007 Caribbean World Cup disaster, wherethey crashed out in the opening round after losing toBangladesh in the first match, still fresh in their minds theMahendra Singh Dhoni-led side will be extra careful againstthe title holders Australia, who are coming into thetournament high on confidence after the 6-1 thrashing ofEngland.

The day-night affair against Australia tomorrow will alsobe of high significance for India in the context of fitness ofa few players, including the batting trio of Virender Sehwag,Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar, who are returning to theside after a short injury lay-off.

Sehwag, personally, would be looking to get back amongstruns, which eluded him in the Test series in South Africa thatwas followed by him missing the ODI series due to a shoulderinjury, while Tendulkar, who also returned midway from theAfrican nation because of a hamstring problem, will be eagerto leave an impression in what probably is his last World Cup.

The match against Australia will also give an opportunityto middle-order batsmen Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and skipperMahendra Singh Dhoni to return to form.

The trio of Dhoni, Yuvraj and Raina all got starts inSouth Africa but failed to capitalise on them and would bedesperate to return to form.

The match is of special importance for Raina, who face atough competition from Virat Kohli and Yusuf Pathan, to retainhis place in the playing eleven.

From the point of the bowlers, Munaf Patel and ZaheerKhan would be looking forward to carry on their good work,while taking wickets is the only thing that will be onleft-arm pacer Ashish Nehra''s mind going into the game.

For right-arm fast bowler S Sreesanth, who replacedinjured Praveen Kumar in the last minute, it is an opportunityto impress upon the team management for the third seamer''sspot in the playing eleven.

The spin department, meanwhile, is in the safe hands ofexperienced off-spinner Harbhajan Singh. But the thing towatch out for is the healthy competition between provencustomer R Ashwin and surprise inclusion Piyush Chawla.

Australia, on other hand, is high on confidence afteravenging their Ashes series loss in the seven-match ODI seriesagainst England. .

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