Team India gears up for Aussie challenge
The Indian team started its preparation for the seven-match ODI series against Australia with a light practice session at the Mumbai Cricket Association grounds (MCA) in Mumbai on Tuesday.
The players had a game of football for nearly 30 minutes followed by a nets session for batsmen and bowlers.
Image: Team India
Photographs: Uday Kuckian
Delhi boys give practice a miss
The entire squad, barring birthday boy Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma, Gautam Gambhir and Amit Mishra were present at the session that lasted nearly an hour-and-half.
Coach Gary Kirsten and mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton, who landed in the city at around 1400 IST, dumped their bags at the team's hotel and immediately joined the squad at the practice session.
With the sacking of bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad and fielding coach Robin Singh, Kirsten and Upton were overlooked the chores in the session.
Uncapped Tyagi takes first steps
It was a special evening for uncapped Uttar Pradesh pacer Sudeep Tyagi, who took his first step towards international cricket with his first practice session with team mates of the national team.
The Indian team will be hoping to erase memories of their disastrous campaign at the ICC Champions Trophy with a good showing against World champions Australia.
Image: Sudeep Tyagi
'India play a lot better at home'
Australia skipper Ricky Ponting conceded that despite the Champions Trophy debacle, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men will be hard to beat in home conditions.
"They will be particularly hard to beat in India, they always are. They definitely play a lot better at home than they do when they travel," Ponting said.
The Indians will also be gunning for revenge, having lost the last home series against the Aussies 2-4.
The hosts are bolstered by the return of Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh, both making comebacks from injuries.
Image: Harbhajan Singh (left) with Yuvraj Singh
Tendulkar holds the key for India
Veteran batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who enjoys a terrific record against the Aussies, will be an integral part of the Indian batting line-up.
The master batsman has always been a pain in the neck for Australian bowlers over the years, having scored 2730 runs in 61 ODIs, at 46.27 with eight hundreds, against them.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Australia face injury woes
Australia, meanwhile, have a few injury woes. Ponting said injuries to regular vice-captain Michael Clarke and batsman Callum Ferguson has disturbed the balance of the side and selection would be a major headache during the tour.
While Ferguson is out for a year with a knee injury, Clarke is battling a back problem, but may join the squad in the later in the series.
"The selectors and myself are going to have a bit of thinking to do over the next few days as to what we do with the batting line-up," Ponting said.
The seven-ODI match series starts with the first ODI in Baroda on October 25.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (left) with team-mates