Thursday, October 29, 2009


World champions Australia said on Thursday they were struggling to focus on the ongoing one-day series in India because the team had been decimated by a string of injuries to key players.

With the seven-match series tied at 1-1, the injury-plagued tourists are down to the bare bones for the third international at the Ferozeshah Kotla here on Saturday.

"With a few little niggles around, the focuses do tend to go towards that," said left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, himself battling an ankle injury."But we have got to regroup, sit in our team meetings and talk about what went wrong in Nagpur and what we thought we did right out there."

Australia won the first match, in Vadodara on Sunday, by four runs, before crashing to a heavy defeat in Nagpur on Wednesday after India piled up a mammoth 354-7 and bowled out the tourists for 255.

Ricky Ponting's men came to India depleted by the absence of four one-day regulars, vice-captain Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Nathan Bracken and Callum Ferguson.

Pace spearhead Brett Lee (elbow) and all-rounder James Hopes (hamstring) missed Nagpur, while Johnson only just made it.

In a further blow, wicket-keeper Tim Paine -- a replacement for Haddin -- broke a finger during the demolition in Nagpur and has been asked to return home.

The selectors, who flew in young all-rounder Moises Henriques to reinforce the injury-stricken squad, have now called up Graham Manou to replace Paine.

If Manou arrives in New Delhi by Friday, he is certain to play a day later, but it is unclear if Lee and Hopes will be available for selection on Saturday.

India need to win the series to overtake Ponting's men as the top-ranked one-day team in the world.

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