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October 8, 2008
Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain, believes the pressure on India's 'Fab Four' batsmen will hand Australia an advantage when the Test series begins on Thursday. Sourav Ganguly has already announced he will retire after this series, while Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are also in the twilight of their careers.
"There's no doubt about that," Ponting told the Australian when asked if the extra pressure on the four men would help Australia. "There's speculation about whether Ganguly should be in the team in the first place. He probably feels a little bit lucky that he was included in the squad because there weren't too many people around the country who I spoke to who thought he was going to get named.
"Some of the older players are probably looking at this as their last Test series. There are all sorts of things going around in the media at the moment, with claims that some of them will be forced out and told they have to retire at a certain time. Guys like Laxman and Dravid. And who knows when Sachin is going to call it quits.
"He's probably going to be the only one who is going to have the luxury of deciding when he is going to retire by the sound of it. I'm sure they'll be reminded of that on a daily basis, and not just by us. Their media will be all over them if we start the first Test well and put pressure on them in lots of different ways. "
In the past couple of years it has been the Australians who have most often been likened to a "Dad's Army" of older veterans. However, the visitors have a relatively youthful squad on this tour and Ponting said his men would be aiming to expose India's ageing line-up in the field.
"If we can make their fielding look as bad as it is by some good running between wickets and good hustling and good pressure," Ponting said, "then you know straight away all the old stuff about the old bodies and 'Ganguly can't field' and 'Dravid looks a bit slow', all of that stuff will come out."
But there is also significant pressure on Australia, who hold the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and have lost only one Test series - the 2005 Ashes - since they last went down to India in 2000-01. Australia also have an unusually unpredictable line-up and have several important selection decisions to make before the first Test starts in Bangalore.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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