Ponting targets India veterans
Australian captain hopes youth triumphs over experience in four-test series.
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2008 08:15 GMT

Ponting reminds Hayden what the bat looks like [GALLO/GETTY]
Australia captain Ricky Ponting says his team will target India's aging batsmen, including star Sachin Tendulkar, in the opening match of the four-test series which starts tomorrow.

Australia will field a relatively inexperienced team, but Ponting said his youthful lineup will try to make some of their opponents look "past their use-by date."

India will once again rely heavily on its so called "Fab Four," made up of veterans Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman.

Applying pressure

"That's what we're trying to achieve, to put their older guys under immense pressure," Ponting said.

"We know if we do that, and make little things stand out, their whole media over here will just jump on them, especially if they lose an early game."

Former captain Ganguly, 36, has announced he will retire after the Australia tour, and Ponting now wants to put pressure on the other three.

Direct attack

Australia has outlined its strategy to bowl at the batsmen instead of the usual ploy of delivering outside the off stump, a method which was successful on the Indian tour of 2003-04.

India coach Gary Kirsten, a former South Africa test opener, said his big-name players were ready for the tactic.

"We are very aware of what their plans are and we have prepared accordingly," Kirsten said.

"We've got very talented batsmen and really what we are looking for is for a few of them to get into good form early in the series. "

Australian concerns

Australia also has concerns over its older players, including opener Matthew Hayden, who returns after missing the West Indies series with a heel problem, and a bowling attack that is untried in India.

Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson have never played a test in India, and Australia will wait until Thursday to decide whether Cameron White or Jason Krejza make their debut and fills the slow-bowling spot.

Fast bowlers

"Our spinners are young and inexperienced at test level, but if you look at our fast bowlers, those guys are very skilled and talented," Ponting said.

"There's no reason why our fast bowlers alone can't win us this test series."

Vice-captain Michael Clarke is suffering from a stomach illness but will play, while Shane Watson has been recalled to bat at No. 6.

Simon Katich has beaten his New South Wales teammate Phil Jaques to the opening position alongside Hayden.

Sourav Ganguly ignores the media [GALLO/GETTY]
Ganguly swansong

Ganguly, who has scored 6,888 runs in 109 tests, added some extra motivation for the home side when he revealed plans to step down at the end of the series.

Ponting said the decision would ensure extra scrutiny on Ganguly's top-order teammates.

"By him making that announcement, it will take a lot of pressure off him," he said.

"He's not playing for the next test or next series.

"A lot of their senior players will be in this series.

"If you look at Laxman, Sachin and Dravid, they'll all be so wrapped up to get runs in this series to give them another opportunity."

Harbhajan Singh, centre, inspects the pitch [GALLO/GETTY]
Indian spin

India is expected to choose two spinners for the first test, with captain Anil Kumble pairing with offspinner Harbhajan Singh.

Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, the 20-year-old fast bowler who impressed in Australia, are likely to share the new-ball duties.

Kumble, who turns 38 this month, said the Bangalore test would be his last on his home ground, but refused to outline his exit plan.

"Ill let you know when my last series is," he said.

"I'm not someone who will announce it before.

"I like to take things as they come."

Harbhajan controversy

Harbhajan has had a prickly relationship with the Australians throughout his career, but is a big threat after taking 61 wickets against them in 11 tests, including 55 in seven games at home.

He is a particular threat to Ponting, who he has dismissed nine times.

Ponting has only 172 runs from eight matches in India and is looking to correct one of the few weaknesses in his game.

Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh will be looking to target Ponting [GALLO/GETTY]
Ponting weakness

"For me it's just a matter of trusting myself," he said.

"The series here in '01, the really bad series, was when I didn't trust my technique and was trying to find a way in every innings to combat mainly Harbhajan.

"I've learned a lot and come a long way as a player since then."

Australian inexperience

Australia holds the Border-Gavaskar trophy after its 2-1 series victory at home in 2007-08, but the side has arrived in India with an outfit that includes only four players, Ponting, Hayden, Clarke and Katich, with test experience here.

In 2004 those players were part of the drought-breaking series victory, Australia's first in the country since 1969.

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