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Entertainment Guaranteed! -Amit Masram Column
by Amit Masram
Oct 24, 2009

Entertainment Guaranteed!

India  face an in form Australian side at home with what promises to be a top draw .
After the unceremonious exits of  bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad and fielding coach Robin Singh , Indian camp will  be put to  a stern test , with Australia looking in prime form ,having won the ICC Champions Trophy and hammered England 6-1 away from home in one-day cricket during the last two months.
Skipper Ricky Ponting is in sensational  form and he would relish the batting beauties in India. However these very batsman friendly wickets have a lot to offer to Indian spinners, which he would be aware of. While both sides are  fresh with some time off from the tightly packed schedules , three New South Wales players(Brett Lee, Doug Bollinger , Nathan Haurtiz) have acclimatized themselves , being  a part  of the victorious  side of the Champions League T-20 .Indians will enjoy the home support  and know the conditions well . On the other hand, Australia would like to exploit India’s Achilles heel – sloppy fielding and inconsistent bowling, which has come under the scanner of late, to nullify the advantage.
This series will also serve a notice to viewers across the world, whether ODIs are really getting suffocated with the commercial advent of T-20 cricket. Sparse crowds in the champions league Twenty – 20 and too much cricket in the shortest format of the game, this series will be a ground to seek answers if ODI cricket is an endangered species. What looked like a clear case of advertisers shifting loyalties for T-20, at ODI’s expense,  have changed with the tournament not meeting their expectations of the advertisers. As per rating agency aMap, Champions League T20's matches' TRPs ranged between 0.4-1 and advertisers believe the ratings will average out to be between 1-1.5 for the entire tournament. This is food for thought  for advertisers certainly.
With Dhoni suffering an injury during the practice session two days before the match   , the Indian camp could be iffy about his availability, as he is the lone stumper .Uncapped players will get a opportunity to make impression, while the spot light will remain on Hussey plagued by inconsistent form, as Australia’s chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch conceded a close performance appraisal for Hussey.Shaun Marsh returns to side after showing huge promise in the first edition of the IPL.
Australia will have to cope quickly with the Indian spinners and without the services of the Michael Clarke, blessed with a twinkling footwork   and the experienced Brad Haddin at the top of the order, not to mention the consistent Callum Ferguson, Michael Hussey will have to carry the hopes of Australian batting .Ricky Ponting looks rejuvenated and his wicket will have a bigger say as always. The Indian team will be bolstered by the return of Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh; both proven match winners on their day, but Indian bowling will certainly face an acid test against a strong Australian batting line up.
India's fortunes have fluctuated wildly in the recent past, the first-round exits in the Champions Trophy and the World Twenty20 being tempered by a one-day series victory in the West Indies in between. Also , Gautam Gambhir is going through a lean patch, India would need consistently good starts, upfront . The team winning the early games will hold the key .Only four points separate Australia and India at the top of the ICC's one-day rankings and India would be guaranteed the top spot should they win the series
Make no mistake, it will be a closely-contested series and India may find it difficult to get the bearings right .The question whether Australia has made transition will be answered with a fair amount after this series. At the moment , one thing is guaranteed that is entertainment.  
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