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India look to bounce back as Dhoni returns


Brisbane, Dec 16 (PTI) Bolstered by the return of regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India will look to regroup and fight their way back into the four-match series when they face Australia on a lively Gabba wicket in the second cricket Test starting here tomorrow.

In the absence of Dhoni, the visitors were ably led by stand-in skipper Virat Kohli, as they came very close to winning the first Test before agonisingly losing out on the fifth and final day by 48 runs in an intense chase.

Dhoni now returns to the side for the second Test after recovering from a thumb injury and will have to provide the inspiration for the young team to restore parity.

Despite his availability, India do not have a member in this squad who has played Test cricket at this ground, which is known as Australia’s fortress as no opposition team has managed to win a Test here since 1988-89.

The visitors’ last Test here was during the 2003-04 tour, when Sourav Ganguly set the tone with an imperious knock of 144 and Dhoni will perhaps need an act of similar inspiration when he marshals his team in the second game tomorrow.

Given the young team, the first and foremost task for Dhoni will be to get the playing combination right if they have to bounce back in the series.

Dhoni’s return means Wriddhiman Saha will be warming the benches. Ravindra Jadeja is also unavailable for selection owing to injury and Bhuvneshwar Kumar has already been ruled out with his replacement Dhawal Kulkarni joining the squad.

In four of their last six overseas Tests, wherein Dhoni was captain in five of them, India opted to go with a five-bowler attack.

A grassy pitch and lots of rolling a day ahead of the Test means that India’s bowlers –- in particular the pacemen –- will perhaps take a liking to it. But they need to find their discipline first if they want to make any sort of impression on the Australian batting.

R Ashwin looked busy in practice ahead of the match and it is anticipated that he will return to the team. If India do go in with five bowlers then Rohit Sharma will have to sit out, not having done much of note in the first Test.

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