NEW DELHI, April 10: It's been two days now since Shane Warne turned up for practice. ``He's resting,'' says captain Steve Waugh. ``It's been a long tour,'' adds coach Geoff Marsh. One tiring month and two weeks, and the Australians may have just begun to wither at the final stretch. But their ticket to the Pepsi tri-series final is yet to be confirmed. Even otherwise, they can't afford to lose to Zimbabwe tomorrow.
``Yes, they are hungry. They are desperate for a win,'' acknowledges Steve Waugh. But, surely Waugh, like his Zimbabwean counterpart Alistair Campbell, realises that much more goes into a crunch cricket tie than adrenalin. Experience is a more useful friend. And here, the Australians are much better off even if all-rounder Tom Moody is destined to stay in the dressing room with a hamstring injury.
Their batting package of Darren Lehmann, Michael Bevan, Moody's replacement Damien Martyn and the skipper to take over from Mark Waugh and Ricky Ponting up above, is as solid as they come. The otherdepartment would, of course, be led by Warne with Kasprowicz, and Damien Fleming to start the proceedings.
So far so good on paper. But the Australians really have not been able to come up with a performance that did credit to that line-up. Note: None of their batsmen have hit a century in this tournament till now. Not that their bowling has been inspirational. Not surprisingly, the captain has decided to chip in with a few overs -- ``five or more'' -- for the first time in this series. ``Our over-all performance has been disappointing. We are yet to play to potential,'' admits Steve Waugh.
It would well have been Campbell speaking here, because the gutsy left-hander has been grappling with a similar predicament. Campbell, Grant Flower and the delightful Murray Goodwin have always pushed the side to the verge of victory, only for the rest to come tumbling down.
Surely, Zimababwe could do with a couple of 50s or more from their lower order than the 20s and 30s they have been churning out so far.
Theirbowling too could use some extra bite even though Mpumelelo Mbangwa has pop. There is still the missing edge of deceptive leg-spinner Paul Strang, who would have had a good go here on a pitch, that Steve Waugh reckons will be a Warne special.
Then, there is that slight matter of net run rate which may not count at all as a win here would take either side into the final. As Waugh said, ``It's a simple situation. If we win, we're through.''
Australia (likely XI): Steve Waugh (capt), Shane Warne (vide-capt), Adam Gilchrist (wk), Mark Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Bevan, Darren Lehmann, Gavin Robertson, Damien Fleming, Damien Martyn and Michael Kasprowicz. 12th man: Adam Dale.
Zimbabwe (from): Alistair Campbell (capt), Andrew Flower (vice-capt), Gary Brent, Craig Evans, Grant Flower, Murray Goodwin, Adam Huckle, Mpumelelo Mbangwa, Paul Strang, Heath Streak, Dirk Viljoen, Andrew Whittall, Guy Whittall and Craig Wishart.
Umpires: O Krishna (Andhra) and Dandapani (Kerala). Third umpire: RajanSeth (Delhi).
Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.