Table-toppers India aim to stifle cornered Aussies

Brisbane: Australia`s back-to-back losses have thrown the ODI tri-series open and a revitalised India would look to corner the struggling and injury-hit hosts when the two sides clash in the critical second phase of the league here tomorrow.

Pleasantly surprised to see themselves atop the table at the halfway stage, India are aware the arduous climb would only begin in earnest from now on.

Sri Lanka scrambled the stakes with a damning defeat of Australia in Sydney on Friday night – the likes of which the hosts have rarely suffered – and might just be peaking at the right time in the tournament.

Little separates the three teams and all could change in a matter of two games. The Gabba double-header thus assumes enormous significance for Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s men.

India have shown their appreciation of the situation and the last couple of days have been hard work-outs for the boys at the venue.

The vexed issue of dropping one of the three openers has worked itself out with the likely absence of Virender Sehwag in the day-night encounter. Sehwag is ill at ease with his back spasm and even though he stayed around in the nets and also padded up at the fag end for a few hits, the right-hander looks a non-starter.

It would give an extension to the in-form Gautam Gambhir, not to forget yet another shot at the elusive 100th century to Sachin Tendulkar, both of whom straining at the leash to stamp themselves on the Australians who have been ruinous to their reputation this summer.

Gambhir has kicked on with two brilliant near-centuries in Adelaide and has 188 runs from three matches at 62.65 average. He also has a notable strike rate of 83.55 which has made him an enviable anchor for other two teams.