Aus take on SL with India praying for Oz win

Melbourne: Indian cricketers and millions of their fans would be unified in praying for an Australian victory when the hosts take on Sri Lanka in the last but the most crucial league match of the ODI tri-series here tomorrow.

But for the miraculous 321-run chase in under 40 overs against Sri Lanka, India were out of the fray but the win has given them a glimmer of hope.

If the Aussies beat the Sri Lankans, India will be through to the best-of-three finals. In fact, the Indians have put their practice on hold till the result.

A major worry for Australia, already in the finals, is the stiff back of skipper Michael Clarke. Clarke, who has already sat out of a few matches in the series because of the problem, may not be available even tomorrow.

"We think he`s going to be okay for Friday. But we`re certainly going to have a low-risk strategy. If he`s just about right, I don`t think we`ll play him. But I think he`ll be okay," national selector John Inverarity has stated on Clarke`s fitness ahead of the match which is statistically of no significance to Australia.

Should it be decided to rest Clarke, the leadership would be once against taken over by all-rounder Shane Watson, who was magnificent with the ball in the match against India.

Pace sensation James Pattinson is also expected to be back after recovering from a foot injury that he picked up during the Sydney Test against India in January.

A concern would be the broken toe of pace spearhead Brett Lee even though he has vowed to play through the pain barrier.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have quite a few issues to deal with after the stunning debacle against India. The side was more or less through to the finals before the abject surrender in Hobart, despite putting more than 300 runs on the board, jeopardised their chances.