India Look To Start New Year With A Bang In Tri-Series
Basking in the glory of an immensely successful 2009, India would be aiming to open their hectic new season ahead with a bang when they take on sub-continental rivals Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in an ODI cricket tri-series beginning on Monday in Dhaka.
The series-opener has the hosts taking on Sri Lanka in a day-nighter here and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men would be in action against the other visiting side on Tuesday.
India are a confident bunch having come here on the back of four series triumphs in 2009, the latest being the 3-1 win over Sri Lanka, and they would want to start the year with a bang.
India, who are currently second in the ICC ODI rankings, will also get a chance to narrow the gap with leaders Australia who are seven points ahead at 130.
India have retained the core of the squad that had beaten Sri Lanka 3-1 in the home ODI series last month.
Pacers Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar, and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha though got the axe while Sachin Tendulkar has been rested.
Middle-order batsman Rohit Sharma benefitted from Tendulkar's pullout, while leg-spinner Amit Mishra and pacer Ashok Dinda once again found places in the 16-member squad along with temperamental pacer S Sreesanth who missed the ODI series against Sri Lanka due to swine flu.
Despite the hectic schedule which has given them barely a week's rest after the Sri Lanka series, Dhoni and his men are raring to go and maintain the winning momentum.
"We are happy to play international cricket. It's going to be a triangular series, it will be a bit more exciting. We are hoping this would be continuity to last series (against Sri Lanka)," Dhoni said before the team departure.
Not ready to drop the guard, Dhoni added, "Bangladesh are a good side and can beat any side on their day. We have to be fully prepared."
Sri Lanka had a mixed 2009 having lost both home and away ODI series against India but winning two series against Pakistan. They have come here with a new-look team with several of their big names including Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardene missing.
Jayasuriya, Chamara Kapugedera, fast bowler Lasith Malinga and spinner Ajantha Mendis have been dropped due to poor form in India while Jayawardene, Muralitharan, Angelo Mathews and Dilhara Fernando were left out due to injuries.
They have brought back batsman Chamara Silva after an impressive domestic season as also leg-spinner Malinga Bandara. Left-arm fast bowler Thushara also made a return to the side after a freak shoulder injury which forced him to return from India. PTI