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India to go all out at Vadodara

After regaining confidence by winning in Chandigarh, India are now looking to go all out for victory when they take on Australia in the fifth one-dayer of the seven-match Future Cup series on Thursday.

The Reliance Stadium pitch is expected to be a belter, with the curator expecting a 300-plus score by the team batting first. So the toss may be crucial, as both teams will like to put a huge score on the board and place their opponents under as much psychological pressure as they can.

World ODI champions Australia have a 2-1 lead in the series and are expected to come hard at Team India after their narrow loss in Chandigarh.

But there is good news for captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni as some of the problems that cropped up during the losses in Kochi and Hyderabad seem to have been solved with the win in Chandigarh.

The famed Indian batting line-up was a disappointment at the start of the series. But in Chandigarh, India preferred to go with their best opening combination – Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar.

The duo did the trick as they added 91 runs for the opening wicket, which built the foundation of the Indian innings. The middle-order is also regaining form as Yuvraj Singh – who hit a century in Hyderabad – and Dhoni blasted the Australians in Chandigarh.

It will be a big occasion for Tendulkar Thursday. He will be playing his 400th ODI.

The series is an acid test for Dhoni – the first 50-over series as captain for the 26-year-old from Ranchi. The newly-appointed captain came out with flying colours as he led a bunch of raw youngsters to victory in the recently concluded Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa.

But his captaincy was criticised when India lost in Kochi and Hyderabad and were also placed precariously in the opening match in Bangalore, which was washed out due to heavy rain.

For Dhoni there were problems aplenty at the start of the series as the team seemed to be suffering from the Twenty20 hangover, but gradually the Indians have rediscovered their form.

The blend of senior and junior players did the trick in Chandigarh though it is time former captain Rahul Dravid found his form. He relinquished captaincy to concentrate on batting, but hasn’t yet proved that his decision was right.

Another problem for Dhoni is the opening spell by his seam bowlers, especially Zaheer Khan, who has been bowling too many wides and too many deliveries down the wrong line, and thus allowing the famed Australian opening batsmen to get off to flying starts.

But Irfan Pathan – now coming on as first change bowler – should be all fired up on his home ground. His performance in the Twenty20 World Championships had proved that he was hungry to come back. It’s no different for off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.

Harbhajan and left arm spinner Murali Kartik, who played his first ODI in Chandigarh after a gap of 20 months, posed lots of problems for the Australians in India’s eight-run win.

But all said and done, the secret for Team India lies in staying composed and not being intimidated by the Australians.

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