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Dhoni and Warne expect Australia to come back hard

The stand-in captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has rated India's win in the second Test against Australia as one of the best in the country's history.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni expects Australia to come back fighting in the third Test.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni expects Australia to come back fighting in the third Test.

MOHALI // The stand-in captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has rated India's win in the second Test against Australia as one of the best in the country's history. "We were up to the mark in all departments of the game," he said. "Nothing went wrong and we would like to be in this position more often, but that's hard. I guess credit goes to all the players and our support staff. I thought they were brilliant too."

Despite the apparent ease of victory, Dhoni warned his side against over-confidence against an Australia team India have not beaten in a series since 2001. "They have just had a few bad games and that does not take anything away from them," he said. "You can't say they have lost the edge; they still have the potential and they have a talented side. And they are still the No 1." While papers in Australia rooted for the leg-spinner Shane Warne to come back, the leggie himself was hopeful of a comeback from his former teammates.

"India were fantastic," Warne said. "I thought their bowling was outstanding, their batting was good, and their tactics were good. They just generally outplayed Australia. But I'm sure they'll bounce back." Australia's defeat is likely toadd weight to claims that the world champions are a declining force in international cricket. The Australians fielded their third debutant in as many Tests when Peter Siddle earned his first cap in a team that contained four players with fewer than five Tests to their name.

The Australian newspaper commented: "The colossus which strode world cricket largely unchallenged for more than a decade is no longer. India is treating it in the same way that it confronted the West Indies to claim the world crown in 1995." The Daily Telegraph wrote: "It's time to send an SOS to SKW [Shane Warne]. There's no polite way to spin this. Australian cricket needs a helping hand. Stocks of quality front-line bowlers are low. We don't have a spinner worthy of the title."

Despite that, Warne remains confident of Australia's ability to dominate world cricket and even suggested they could replicate the 5-0 whitewash of England he help inspire in his final Test series when the teams resume hostilities next year. "If England lose a couple of series leading up to the Ashes then I think that Australia will win convincingly, probably 5-0," said Warne. "But if England start to win like they did before the 2005 Ashes series then I think we could be in for one hell of a series."

Ponting said: "We were outplayed in this game, its as simple as that. It is just a mindset thing and tidying up little aspects of the game." Ponting also poured cold water on talk of a rift between himself and fast bowler Brett Lee. An animated on-pitch conversation invloving the two players and led to speculation of ill-feeling between the pair. "I made Brett aware last night that he wasn't going to bowl first thing in the morning. It had all to do with wanting to take the pace off the ball early.

"India were on top at that stage and scoring runs quickly and our over-rate had dropped. Hence the reason for Mike Hussey to bowl. I guess I didn't communicate that very well to Brett when he wanted to bowl just before lunch." * Agencies