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Jackson fans' tribute at Apollo

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mother of all battles begins today

Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting along with Indian counterpart Anil Kumble

The Fight of their Lives begins today (Oct 9), as India take on world champions Australia, to play the first Test of the four-Test series in Bangalore. Sourav Ganguly will be the cynosure of all eyes as he attempts to script a resounding end to his roller-coaster cricket career.

Bangalore is abuzz in anticipation to see the best in the business take on their recent arch rivals. The Aussies are sure to have their swords out, as skipper Ricky Ponting, much before the start of the match, initiated mind games. He minced no words when asked about the Indian fielding and fitness as he said that Indians play old school cricket.

India should make no mistake that the 'Kangaroos' will use former Indian coach Greg Chappell to get maximum mileage, and the Aussies already sounded the alarm. Ponting said, "It is great to have Greg Chappell's influence around you. He has been helpful in eveything so far. He has given us a lot of insight in terms of the playing conditions and also about few players. It is always great to have a cricketing brains like him around."

The turmoil in the Indian team, with talks of retirements, however, gives no reason to the visiting Australians to celebrate as they battle their spin demons on the dry and hard tracks at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

For Indian skipper Anil Kumble, Bangalore is a jumbo task and that might prevent him to fully relish his last Test at his homeground. Kumble said, "It seems to be a good surface and hopefully we will be able to play good cricket. We don't want to take any of the Aussie bowlers lightly. It's my home ground and we would like to start the series with a win."

Spotlight on Sourav Ganguly

After taking the entire cricket fraternity by surprise by deciding to quit after the current series, Ganguly would be hoping that the closing chapters of his career are nothing short of fairytale as India seek to make amends for the home series loss in 2004.

The Bengal left-hander's pre-series retirement announcement is reminiscent of his one-time bitter foe and former Australian captain Steve Waugh's swansong, that completely shifted the focus of the 2004 series Down Under on him.

"Let me play without any pressure on me" was Ganguly's plea to chief selector Krish Srikkanth when he confided in him about his retirement plans but having announced his decision, the left-hander will be expected to play out a special innings to end his career which was as much glorious as controversial.

With Ganguly's retirement, murmurs have started of a phasing out of the other seniors of the squad and the trio of VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid would feel the heat if they fail to perform. '

'Spin it and seal it' -- will be India's mantra, but just how well can they use it against the mighty Aussies is the catch. The game begins today with everything at stake, be it the reputation of the 'fab four' or restoring the pride by winning back the Border-Gavaskar Trophy."

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